Sadly, none of the presidential candidates are supporting the education profession. What would a campaign look like that did promote education?
Below are some major themes and sound bites that might bring us out of this dark ages of education.
“It is time to move educational decision-making back to the classroom professional: the classroom teacher. Education is not the same as test-preparation, but our schools, once the most creative and exciting schools in the world, have become test-preparation factories. Nobel Prizes in science lag several decades and our current high number of Nobel awards has been built on the creative classrooms before this shift to assembly-line curricula and test-prep. We cannot expect future Nobel Prizes unless we restore the professionalism of an earlier age.”
“Our students tomorrow must learn more than we did, just as we learned more than our parents. There are no short cuts to more education for tomorrow’s citizens. Students who just push the “log” key on a calculator and do not know what a logarithm is, cannot become engineers tomorrow. The internet is useless if you do not know what questions to ask, or what the words mean in the answer you get. We must get back to a real education in a real world, and stop wasting resources for terribly expensive electronics that become obsolete in 4-5 years, and which isolate students from the real world they live in.”
“We did not get into this teacher shortage overnight, and we will not gain back a world-class workforce of excited and well-trained teachers overnight. Many veteran teachers have left the field and many of the best college students have diverted from teaching because we have made it an assembly-line test preparation job. Teaching is the most important job in society because without good teachers, we will not have good doctors and lawyers and workers. If we want good teachers, we must allow them the same professional judgement we expect from our doctors and lawyers.”
“In the last 20 years, we have seen the percent of high school graduates who enter college rise from below half to now over 70 percent. Yet the actual numbers who are able to perform at college level has decreased, and colleges now face a huge burden of offering remedial coursework. Not all high school students need to go to college. We need auto mechanics and nursing assistants and many other worker skillsets. And many students would prefer these technical careers. Yet our education system is under pressure to retain everybody. The result is inflated grades, deflated content, wasted resources and degrees that may no longer stack up to foreign credentials. It is time to clamp down on diploma mills, cheap courses and programs.”
“Yes, it is the same chart of chemical elements that hangs in every chemistry classroom. And two plus two always equals four. But that does not justify a standardized curriculum, either through No Child Left Behind or a nationalized curriculum. The children of the inner city, the rich suburbs, the rural farmlands...are all different. They have different backgrounds and therefore teaching math and chemistry to them is different. Mandated standards and standardized curricula treat our children as uniform raw material to be hammered into a uniform product. But the strength of America is based on diverse practice that develops the strengths of unique individuals. Our children are unique, and headed into unique careers. We must end this cookie-cutter standardization of our schools.”
“Local schools boards and state school boards have lost most of their jurisdiction due to the unfunded education mandates and policies of the Federal bureaucracy. Education is a state responsibility. The majority of each state’s budget goes to fund their schools. That is where the curricular decisions should be made. There must be a close and direct linkage between program requirements and funding limitations. When Federal mandates, no matter how good-intentioned, drive the curriculum but fund less than ten percent of school costs, there is no balance of policy and budget. It is time to close the federal Department of Education and leave education to the states where it Constitutionally belongs.
I am a teaching professional, and I approve these messages!
John Richard Schrock trains biology teachers and lives in Emporia.