Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pity the Poor Teachers !

Pity the Poor Teachers

Pundits and Politicians, community leaders and parents do not tire of talking about the “crisis in education.” Various statistics are show how poorly American schools do in comparison to schools abroad.
In a world where people are sensible, they would go and ask the teachers about their thinking about the problems in our schools. But not so in the m US. Instead the government either makes up stuff out of whole cloth or they talk to so-called ”experts” who produce the perfect solution to all our education problems. When one of those simple solutions does not work, the experts produce another one, and another one, and so on . . .
Not too long ago Pres.Obama had the perfect and perfectly simple solution: pay the good teachers more. Provide a monetary incentive to teachers to make them strive harder for excellence. Not only was this suggestion really insulting to teachers who work hard, year in, year out whether they get paid well or not, but it is plainly foolish. Would the President work harder if we paid him more? Does the person who sells me stamps at the Post office give mean  extra smile because the Post-Office pays here extra for every smile? Perhaps she is just a nice person who wants to do a good job.

The next “solution” the education experts dreamt up was to fire teachers in poorly performing schools and to remove the principals. Once again the experts decided to blame the teachers and that’s that.

Both of these solutions are convenient because it takes attention from the citizens who refuse to pay taxes to support the schools, the government who blows trillions of dollars in wars and military hardware, and the experts who are too lazy to acknowledge that education is a difficult and challenging field and that any simple “solution” is bound to be a failure.

Well, at last someone is showing that it is not all the teachers’ fault. Studies have shown that children learn less or very little if they switch schools frequently. The children of the poor are moved around because their parents being unable to pay rent in one place move somewhere else, or because their work life is full of uncertainty they move a lot. Whatever the reasons--no doubt different in different cases--if parents move a lot their children will not do well in school. Schools where more than twenty percent of the students come and go in any given years, are most likely to “underperform” on the standard tests.

It is not all the teachers’ fault.

What will the experts come up to “solve” the problem of instability? How about assuring every family a decent roof over their head? How about aiming at full employment? How about guaranteeing everyone a wage that will allow them a decent standard of living without working three jobs?