9/25: Educators’ next chapter

The AJC Editorial Board

Great schools demand great teachers. And in recent years, Georgia has spent billions of dollars, in fits and starts, to increase teacher quality.

Yet we’re not where we need to be. Far from it.

Reporting last week in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution describes a decade-long “piecemeal and contradictory approach to improving teacher quality, with little evidence of success.”

We have to do better.

Read what Andre Jackson, writing for the Editorial Board has to say. Then read  the opinions of  Jon Schoening, who  teaches at Inman Elementary School in Fayette County;  Gwen Green,  a library media specialist at Stephenson Middle School in DeKalb County; Anthony Pattiz, who teaches social studies at Sandy Creek High School in Fayette County; and Monica Dorner, an English teacher at Sandy Creek High School in Fayette County.

Then tell us what you think about how to address teacher quality.

14 comments Add your comment

Retired teacher

September 25th, 2011
10:50 am

Anthony Pattiz
great read …an educator for sure!!

Retired teacher

September 25th, 2011
10:41 am

Suggested reading….

Education for Critical Consciousness
– Paulo Freire

Angry Moderate

September 25th, 2011
10:38 am

As there’s been much discussion of a business model for education, consider the following analogy.

I run a business, and sales have not been good lately. It’s easy to point the finger at my sales consultants (and I have performance data to back it up!), so I spend a great deal of time/effort/capital on training to make them more effective at what they do. If this doesn’t improve my sales, do I conclude that my salespeople are at fault?

Not necessarily. It *could* be that my sales staff is a bunch of slackers, or maybe the training itself was ineffective. But there are plenty of other factors I had better consider before I start firing people. Is there a problem with the quality of my product/service itself? Are customers interested in my product in the first place? Am I providing adequate customer support? Is there a problem with my company’s reputation? The list goes on.

The point is that teacher quality is but one aspect of educational quality, and focusing on improving the former is not necessarily going to have a proportionate effect on improving the latter. Do we need better training and accountability for teachers? Certainly. But do we also need a more conducive educational environment, for both teachers and students? Absolutely, and that goes way beyond the classroom. Not only do we need to train teachers to thrive, we need to provide them with opportunities and circumstances in which they are able to thrive. We need to look at the big picture, not simply point fingers at one piece of it.

Eric

September 25th, 2011
8:21 am

To Old Physics Teacher, I agree with what you’re saying. I went to school from 1968-81 (through high school), and I learned the 3 R’s very well. You’re right, it was through parents and teachers who had high expectations, but not to the extent of the information and policy “overload” we’re seeing in today’s schools. And there certainly wasn’t the business model driving it all into the ground. I think the verdict is still out on whether all this new technology is really helping students. Maybe it is, but sometimes it can be a distraction too.

Old Physics Teacher

September 25th, 2011
12:57 am

Retired Teacher: Here, here!

Eric:

Back in the 1960’s our SATs were higher and we weren’t exposed to anything but readin’, ritin’, and ‘rithmatic. The difference is that we weren’t being prepared for jobs; we were being prepared to become a citizen. The kids now know more facts, but few can solve problems, and our teachers knew less. It was about individual, and parent, responsibility. When we see it now, the kids do well no matter who their teachers are… and BTW, what Bill Gates knows about education problem solving can be written on the head of a pin..

Eric

September 24th, 2011
3:39 pm

I completely agree with Mountain Man!

I also agree with Anthony Pattiz that both knowledge of content and application (skills) in real world contexts should be measured for quality education, rather than content alone.

However, I think Monica Dorner is a somewhat off-the-mark. I don’t think Georgia’s teacher education programs “foster mediocrity.” You should see some of the amazing technology and teaching strategies being taught at Georgia’s universities (great innovations, in my view). Also, NCLB now requires teachers to become “highly qualified” in their content area, so the increased standards for hiring you mention are already in place. Most of all, it’s unfortunate you also think everyone has to be an “overachiever.” Who wants to live in a society like that anyway? Not everyone works at the same level all the time. It’s sad that we’ve come to view people who may not be as bright (or as perfect as you) as something to be discarded/expendable.

mountain man

September 24th, 2011
3:20 pm

Here is how to address teacher quality: have a better group of students. It is not teachers that should be held accountable for learning, it is students.

Retired Educator

September 24th, 2011
1:50 pm

As I look back upon the years I spent being prepared to teach, I have identified patterns of what we received instruction in and unfortunately, much of it was irrelevant to future Educating. I have always been of the opinion that courses vital to the education process were not taught. New teachers have No Idea about handling Discipline, how to write Lesson Plans, how to handle Unruly or Irrate parents or even how to deal with Intimidating School Officials. They often don’t join the Teacher’s Unions nor their Professional Organizations related to their subject areas. Too many come on board because they see Education as the “easiest” of professions without any regards to the well-being of the children they will serve. You must have a “HEART”
for the profession because you will not to become wealthy, unless of course, you are doing things “Under the Table” as many have done over the years in Atlana Public Schools. Our children are and have been sacrificed at the greed of Administrators, and continue to be so. Teachers are now the Fall Guys. We were not warned about these concepts, let alone how to deal with them should you become the SACRIFICIAL LAMB!! Without teachers, you would not have the other Professions, yet we are the lowest rated of Professions. Oh, yes, and don’t forget, the lowest paid of professions. You invest millions and millions of dollars to see a group of men throwing, chasing or hitting some type of balls, for only about three monts each, yet nobody cares about how their children can get the education they deserve??? Educating future Teachers with the most updated academic programs and the most needed Computer Literate Technology programs is most valuable along with the courses REALLY needed to teach in their Core areas,
is of the utmost necessity. There should be a Team on the State level to actually look at all the curriculums in the Teacher Education Programs being taught in the Colleges and Universities to bring them into the 21st Century.
Don’t keep teaching glorified High School courses at more difficult levels and call it College Courses. We all know what is relevant, but no one wants to challenge it. Why do you want to keep teaching “Updated”courses that are NOT updated just because it will cause many of the Older Professors(who need to Retire anyway),to require current editions and Revising their Syllabis for their students? They are comfortable using the same books every term. Just like the children in our schools, Teacher Education needs to cover a lot more of the BASICS and leave all the New programs alone as they have not proven their worth anyway and they end up piled up in a closet somewhere, never to be seen again. Give Teachers the chance to be heard more in the selection processes for their students. They are the ones who must implement, evaluate,test and re-test their students performance levels. I really get tired of Adminstraors echoing, “I’ts For the Children”, what children are they talking about since you want to claim they are not Learning? Some body better get a serious Grip!!

Take off the tea party mask and see the teapot dome.

September 24th, 2011
7:58 am

Of course, Business is trying to take over education. The business-mindset enforces a future of work drones, not problem solvers. Problem solvers question the antics of the powers-that-be. Wake up and smell the tea.

Eric

September 24th, 2011
7:47 am

“We have to do better. Ours is a globally competitive world and Georgia’s children need the most rigorous, comprehensive education we can provide if they are to become productive citizens of tomorrow. And in these times of cash-strapped budgets, we need the best possible return on each dollar spent.”

You seem out of touch, Mr. Jackson. The bar for student success today is constantly being raised. Just compare the curriculum and SAT scores today, to say 1980, and you will discover kids today are being exposed so much more information, concepts, technology, etc. But that’s not enough to satisfy the business mindset, such as yourself, taking over education. Our need to “compete” in a globally competitive world is the most worn-out reason I’ve heard in our attempts to “reform” teaching. This mindset creates needless anxiety in our citizens and is leading to the most boring society we’ve ever had, seeing kids only as “productive” citizens. What a shame there can’t be other views of educational philosophy in practice.