Education reform….

We hear about it every four years when it’s time to elect a new President. Some of us study the bills before Congress and hope this one or that one will be passed. However, our education system needs a major overhaul.

I know a young teacher, she has taught elementary for five years. She has a huge amount of student debt because she has her Masters’ and is working in an inner city school district, which is what she wanted to do. She wanted to make a difference in little kids’ lives. She wanted to pass onto them her knowledge and love of learning and better prepare them for today’s world. She was hoping that with a concrete foundation, that they would go on to believe in themselves and their own learning capabilities and go to college.

I spoke to her yesterday and she was so disheartened. She has a small classroom of only 15 students this year. She was thrilled at first because she thought that she would really be able to make a difference. Unfortunately she has a little boy that stabs other kids with a pencil several times a week.  She calls security. She sends him to the Principal’s office. They give him detention and detention means that he gets to play on the computer. So what is the incentive for the child Not to stab others with a pencil?  He also throws chairs and desks and uses profanity. He is in second grade. Another child sleeps the entire afternoon. He lays down on the carpet that is designated for “circle time” and sleeps. He is homeless, so perhaps that’s why. This teacher has had several talks with the school social worker and Principal. There are more children in the class besides these two that have these kind of problems – behavioral as well as academically….

Here’s the problem:  The school can’t keep a child back a year if they don’t know their studies because it would “look bad on the school”. A teacher won’t get a raise or bonus unless he or she is considered “highly effective”. They must be “highly effective” every year. How can a teacher be classified as “highly effective” when they have this kind of behavior in a classroom with no support from the social worker or principal….or parents??

Of course she is down feeling. The children in the class of course think that if one child is misbehaving, and then getting computer time, they all can do it and they do…..if the teacher calls the parents  sometimes they answer and sometimes, more than often, they don’t.

She goes home thinking it’s been another wasted day. She no longer looks forward to going to work each day. She is a strong Woman of God and is praying for what to do. She is looking into other employment for next year, that will allow her to get out of the teaching field for a while and perhaps do something with social justice issues, which she is also very passionate about.

After I listened to her I was so sad and sorry for the way she feels. Maybe it’s just a five year teaching thing. Maybe she will move to a different grade level. Maybe she won’t teach anymore, although not that long ago, her eyes were shining with possibilities for the young minds she would teach how to love to learn….



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