Friday, September 28, 2012

The Problem in K-12 Education

The problem of K-12 education is something that is near and dear to me.  As a parent, as a member of the business community, and as the spouse of an educator, it is apparent to me that the problem in the classroom is what is allowed to occur outside of the classroom. 

It is not what is going on with students in their home life, but rather how the educational system is more concerned about data, scores, and labels.  As a result, school districts are focused more on standardized tests, rather than truly educating, teaching, and mentoring the next generation.

As I was growing up, you always heard of teachers speaking of the student teaching they had done, what their experiences were, and how they wanted to be teachers.  Today, there are more adults in the classroom and in administration that have never learned how to teach, and may not truly have the passion for teaching.  They are instructors as they are solely focused on test results. 

A teacher in my opinion, is an individual that truly has a passion for her students and can think out of the box to facilitate the learning process.  Teachers understand that true education is created when creativity is nurtured and when small successes are celebrated.  Teachers focus on the student as an individual learner, not as a part of the population in her class that did not pass the standardized test.

We need to get back to the basics in our requirements for teachers.  They need to understand what they are getting into when they agree to become a classroom teacher.  It is not an easy job, it is one of the most thankless jobs, but one that has more scrutiny in this country than most of our careers.  We should focus less on teacher accountability for test scores, and more on teacher responsibility in the classroom.  It is not an 8-3:30 job with summers off.  Teachers must, in my opinion, have coursework in how to educate and reach students, not just have a specific degree.  Instructors can be used in the business world, we need teachers, or rather educators in the classroom.

The way to improve K-12 education is to make it a requirement that our classroom teachers have actual documented teaching experience.  In other professions, we would not allow a surgeon to become licensed after only receiving an undergraduate degree in biology.  Or an attorney to become licensed because they have a liberal arts degree.  We should have the same expectation of for the teaching profession. 

Not every student is going to become an Nobel Prize winner, and not all students want to learn.  But at least create an environment where they are truly being educated rather than being labeled by their test scores.

There are a ton of highly qualified teachers with experience and passion for their students, unfortunately, in my opinion, they represent the minority in the profession.

That's my rant for now.....


  1. Absolutely could not agree more. I guess I was spoiled, I went to a grammar school where the teachers 'lived and breathed' their work. This is not just another job, it is quite literally shaping peoples lives. Forget the figures and the league tables - educate. Bravo that man!

  2. I couldn't agree with you more on the need for better teacher preparation. The "sink or swim" environment that most teachers are subjected to makes it no small wonder that so many are leaving the profession. I swam for six years, but still felt like I was drowning. Teachers are required to take courses in how to reach and educate students, but many classes focus on how to plan and deliver lessons. Plus lots of time gets devoted to working with students on individual education plans, but scant time gets devoted on how to reach gifted students. Oh, and classroom management? That is what will make a teacher successful and hardly any teacher programs effectively deal with that area.

  3. Sadly. I agree with you. I am a former elementary teacher that left the profession because I couldn't make an adequate living (at that time). We have lost our way and need to find our way back if we want our kids to become the best they can be. It will take teacher, parent and public cooperation to make that happen. :-), Susan Cooper

  4. I completely agree - I can't believe that there would not be an automatic requirement of qualifications without throwing people into the deep-end, as Jeri says to sink or swim. The funding for education is sorely lacking and without sufficient qualifications and a commensurate rate of pay, then children who might have had potential will definitely be lost on the way.