Here in CA, we will be electing a new governor soon. I should be excited to see Arnold go, and really I am. What I am not excited about is the fact that a new crop of TV commercials for governor will be coming out (along with commercials for every other job that is up for election this year!). We just had the primaries earlier this month and Meg Whitman won for the Republicans. I still don't really know how I feel about her, other than she's annoying on TV.
The one big thing with her that bugs me, more than the fact that she has more money than the state, is the fact that she touts wanting to "fix education". Everyone wants to fix education when they run for office. But tell me, what needs to be fixed? Saying it needs to be fixed implies it's broken. Now, don't get me wrong, I know education isn't perfect. But when people say they want to fix education, it comes down to one thing and one thing only - teachers. Teachers are the root of all the problems in education if you listen to politicians, or wannabe politicians. I take offense to that as a teacher, and I think others should, too.
When most teachers go to work (face it, there are some who go just to collect a paycheck) they go to work and work as hard as they can given the time, resources and limited supplied they have and make it work as best they can. In California, we are bombarded witih making sure our test scores are higher then the year before. And we do that, with less then we had before. And we do that with more students who don't speak English. And we do that with more students who haven't had a meal since lunch the day before. And we do that with parents who don't give a rats ass about about their child does. And we do it with administrators breathing down our backs telling us what to do , even though they haven't stepped foot in an elementary classroom before!
I don't see how teachers are broken. I don't see how the students are broken. Students, at least in the lower grades, want to please and do what they are told to the best of their abilities. Teachers, for the most part, will do whatever it takes to help students learn the material. Like I said before, we do it with less time, materials, supplies and energy than we had before.
If anything is broken and needs to be "fixed", it's politics. If they think it's so easy to be in the classroom day in and day out, why weren't they teachers before? Or, why don't they go there now and try it for awhile. I dare anyone to come and spend a day in my classroom with my students (preferably the first couple weeks of school) and try and do what I do and then tell me it's broken.
If anything else is broken, it's the people who oversee the distribution of money. This may be the state, the county or even the district and board. I know that the money the government receives for education isn't dispersed the way it should be. We can see this by the salaries the people at the district offices are paid. A secretary in our district was making over $108,000 a year. That's over twice what a teacher gets paid. Now, I know her job is important, but is anyone's job at the district worth $100,000 a year? And why does the PIO guy make more than a principal? Why do we even have a PIO guy? Hmmmmm...and we wonder where all the bad spending is?
I wish people would see that education doesn't need to be fixed. Imroved? Yes, but not fixed. It's not broken. If they want to "fix" it and make it better, fix the parents. Fix the politicians. Fix the spending. Fix the testing. Fix it so students can be successful rather than just judged by a test they are given for a few crappy days. Fix it so students value education rather than thinking it's just another test.
A quick "funny". We were giving our last benchmark test for first grade and a student asked if he had to bubble in the answer. The teacher said of course. The student said something along the lines of "Bubble, bubble, bubble...all we every do it bubble". This was from a first grader. Boy, there's something that needs to be fixed - not his attitude, but the fact that first graders are being tested so much that that's all they feel like they do.