There’s been a lot of reaction to the AJC series, which examines the state’s efforts to bolster teacher quality.
Retired educator and school head Dennis Brown of Villa Rica sent me a short response this morning that I asked him to expand. He felt that the blame for low student achievement should not fall on teachers and schools, but on the home and the culture.
Here is Brown’s expanded retort to the AJC series:
Once again in the Sunday, Sept. 18, issue of the AJC, a front-page inflammatory headline (”Georgia fails at improving teachers”) lays blame on the system for the purported failure of our public schools. And once again, falling and/or non-improving standardized test scores are at the root of all the rhetoric and opinions leading to that conclusion.
First, let me say from the onset that I’m not one willing to say test scores determine, nor should determine the success of our educational system. But notwithstanding that assertion, when will we wake up?
If our next generation is to be well served by graduates prepared to contribute to a constantly improving society (rather than simply producing increased test scores), when will we stop looking at the vehicle to solve the problem, rather than the root of the cause — the changing needs of our young people coming into the system today.
More than 30 years in pre-k-12th grade education and now retired, thank goodness, has shown me one thing — home environment and involved, supportive parents do more to determine outcomes of students than all the teachers, text materials, changing curricula, technology, and other in-school factors added together.
We hear all the time of the ineffective outcomes that have been observed from the 10 years of fluctuating and knee-jerk reactions resulting from the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Likewise, the tons of money squandered as a result of the prominent 1983 report on American education titled “A Nation at Risk,” published by the National Commission on Excellence in Education. But again, both conclusions based on a statistical analysis of test scores.
Hey, if I had all the answers, I’d be a wealthy man. But I don’t. One thing I do know for sure. We need to attack the root of the problem, not the symptoms. Until parents and society stop laying the blame at our school systems and assume responsibility for the mores and daily activity of our young people, all the teachers, teachers of teachers, politicians, and money in the world will not help improve test scores.
And if test scores are the only measure we have to evaluate our school systems of today, then we have our priorities screwed up and perhaps should be the first step of true reform addressed.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog