Why focus on bad teachers and ignore the larger problems in education?

over (Medium)I have received a lot of feedback on the ongoing AJC teacher quality series, much of critical toward the Sunday piece on how hard it is to fire ineffective teachers. (This series is subscriber only, so I can’t reproduce a lot of it here, but this is a sampling.)

I thought this e-mail from a reader was well written on the teacher quality series and offered a balanced perspective. With her permission, I am sharing it on the blog:

I have scanned the blog postings and have found many who are pointing out the very things I want to comment on.  I do feel that I need to add my comment as well.

First, in full disclosure, my husband is a teacher.  And he is a skilled teacher.  He has a master’s degree from a major university and is a nationally certified teacher.

He has not received a raise in years and has had money taken from his pay both in furlough days and the loss of money promised to nationally certified teachers.  But he goes to school every day and gives his best because he believes in the profession and believes that these children are our future.  He could have used his skills in a more financially lucrative way but has chosen to stay in teaching.  And he is not alone.  There many others just like him.

What the AJC did in exposing Beverly Hall was a true civic contribution and the paper is to be applauded.  But this continual berating of teachers is unfair.

First, schools reflect our society at large. We as a society no longer respect education and that disrespect comes from all directions.  Funding for education has become political as has everything in our country. For those who detest government and taxation, public education is an easy target.  You starve it enough and of course its effectiveness diminishes. For some, education has become just another way to make money from the government – a government which so many of them hate.  There are both  good legislators and inept legislators who make countless decisions for education without truly understanding the needs of the schools.

While technology is important and schools need to use technology as appropriate, we put countless dollars into technology that is not targeted or practical for the schools. While buying technology does put money in the hands of companies, many of them who are their donors, it does not solve our education problems.

What schools need is a lower student-teacher ratio. Study after study shows that students achieve higher success with lower student teacher ratios.

We have school boards who are unable to work together or understand their roles in guiding the local schools.  For many it has become a way to advance their religious or political views or merely a stepping stone to something else.

Every day we see changes in the school administration.  Each new superintendent comes in with their own plan for success and that places new requirements on the local schools.  Sadly, in many cases these superintendents leave after a short time only to result in new plans and new requirements and more turmoil.  And what about the “bad” administrators?

Look at the Beverly Halls and countless others like who have not gotten caught.  What about all of the principals who quietly (or not so quietly) get removed or who are enabled to stay.  How does that affect the quality of teaching at that school?

While there are many good parents there are many who do not participate in their children’s learning – either by choice or by their personal limitations.  There are the supercharged parents who demand good grades not from the child but from the teacher.  It surely cannot be their child’s problem.  And there are the parents who don’t even know when the school is closed.  How do you think these people affect teacher success?

My frustration at watching this is that we don’t seem to want to tackle the larger issues.  The solution seems to be to single out a group (preferably at the lower end of the food chain) and blame them.  Then we don’t have to both look in the mirror nor look around us. And while I certainly understand that there are some bad teachers, there are bad performers in every field.

Certainly we need to get rid of those “bad” teachers but teaching is no different than any other field.  But the difference is that we are dealing with the future of this country.  We are already behind other countries.  And if we do not start addressing the larger issues, our future is not so bright.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

110 comments Add your comment

Time4change

October 11th, 2011
5:18 am

Thank you for your thoughts, I agree with you on so many items.

Peter Smagorinsky

October 11th, 2011
5:51 am

Well said. The author recognizes something important that continually evades most school critics: that schools are highly complex institutions with many moving parts, some of which don’t mesh well with the others and some of which would benefit from replacement; and that the whole of the institution is affected daily by the competing interests that surround and populate them. Singling out any factor as the source of difficulty oversimplifies the whole of a school’s functioning. Focusing on failure rather than success diminishes the overall effort of the teaching profession. Those who stand outside education and continually carp at its problems really ought to become part of the solution by volunteering or otherwise making a positive contribution to schools. Not only would they help out, they would inevitably come to a more realistic and complex understanding of how challenging it is to function effectively amidst so many competing demands and expectations.

Have to be anonymous...I'm being monitored at my school

October 11th, 2011
6:38 am

Let the “whining teacher [spouse]” comments begin.

Teacher

October 11th, 2011
6:51 am

Thank you Maureen for posting this and thank you to the letter writer who responded. It came at a particularly important time for me. I came to teaching from a second career and I love teaching. It has been beyond demoralizing to read about the moral bankruptcy of educational systems at the administrative level as I toil through grading assignments to help my students understand concepts, not tests. It has been demoralizing to listen to multibillionaires and their supporting agencies profess that theirs is the guiding light all the while failing to disclose the financial incentives that will further increase these same billionaires and their political cronies. These upcoming elections where a bona fide candidate speaks with a wink and nod about the ‘truthiness’ of so called ’scientific theories’ makes me shudder for the apparent dark ages we seemingly are heading back into.
THEN, I read this letter, and all the voices of my students resonant back at me and wake me up to why I teach. I believe I make a difference- I have students who have NEVER been challenged in class, to think about science, the greater the world and how they can make a difference in it. These same students who go into science and health and medicine, who major in science in college, are inspired to do this because I have helped open the way to look at the world differently. It may seem arrogant to claim that I make a difference but I believe that I do and I believe my colleagues that I work with, who work so incredibly hard, all make a difference. My students know about fair play but the unfairness of life, they know not to turn their back on a challenge and they know that hard work and effort gain more respect from me that platitudes and charm. I am proud that there is a history teacher out there who gets up every morning and does what he does because he makes a difference. I am galvanized to do likewise and just ignore the nay sayers. Thank you for a great start to the second half of the semester.
I will now do my part to fight against the corporate behemoths that grant foundation money to sway educational policy. I will vote against any political leader who does not truly value an educated mind. I will teach my students that education is valuable but going to work everyday and giving it everything that I have.

Teacher

October 11th, 2011
6:53 am

‘by’ going to work everyday.

catlady

October 11th, 2011
7:02 am

Well spoken, but maybe not strongly enough. The very frequent berating of teachers in the AJC has become expected; that is very sad.

Jezel

October 11th, 2011
7:11 am

The subject of “bad teachers” is as tired as the AJC. I challenge the state and the news media to stop “fronting” and get serious about education in this sad state.

If you are looking for someone to blame…blame the students and their parents who are not held accountable for their kids poor grades. Blaming teachers is an excuse. Think about it and quit parroting what other mindless people say.

If you want to improve education..reduce the class size by 50 percent. Does it need to be explained how class size relates to student achievement?

Oh..we do not have the money for that. ANOTHER excuse. Ga. has the 1 billion dollars a year to lock up people who have to resort to crime to survive. Why not spend that money to help train people so they can make an honest living?

AJC..do your homework…find out how and why the DOC gets all the money while dept of education gets what is left. Ask the tough questions and make things happen. What are you afraid of?

really?

October 11th, 2011
7:29 am

Why focus on bad teachers? Because for the individual student and her parents, a bad teacher is a disaster. Parents have little hope of changing larger systems – we have very little power to impact curriculum decisions or influence administrators. What we can hope for is that the principal of our local school has the willingness to remove bad teachers quickly.

Jezel

October 11th, 2011
7:36 am

Really..once a student decides that education is important…they will learn no matter what a teacher does or does not do. By dwelling on the subject of “bad teachers” we are giving students another excuse to do poorly.

cindi smith

October 11th, 2011
7:46 am

I agree with what you say in so many ways. yes the size of the class rooms is way to high and yes the kids do so much better in a smaller group setting . the no child left behind law however has also left us with some lazy teachers who dont seem to have the heart or will to teach, to go that extra mile to help kids that dont learn as fast or need just that little extra push . this is so discouraging to the field and children who are pushed to the backs of these over crowed class rooms where there isnt time to help with specail needs or wants.every child is different and learns in different ways. some faster then other s. There are some wonderful teachers out there that know that teaching is a art and talent not just what you have learned in collage . teaching comes from the heart . and i also agree about the supervisors and board of educatiors . we truely need to address the class size for the sake of our childern our future and not just push them through with little or nothing . and we need to stop robbing from what funds these educators and schools , good teachers are far and few and i think if we would allow these teachers to teach and them see how much of a difference they make to kids that want to learn and do learn it would bring the pride of a educator back and lessen for the lazys.
my son is 10 now but in 1st grade he was not only bullied by a student but the teachers and staff, for me speaking up about how his teacher over looked my plea to keep him safe and away from the child that was hurting him . they not only over looked my childs safety but the child who was bulling . they never once called his parent s or social services to try to help this child with his anger and issuse. i pulled him from public schools and will never let him attend another one again. he suffered night mares and so did i . my son was almost killed in a restroom unattended and sent there with the child who bullied him by the teacher . after i spoke up. the teacher and the supers detained my child every day at lunch in the office he didnt get to go out and play nor eat with the other kids, after i spoke up and asked why they didnt take my sons safety into consideration . and i was not notified of any of this through the school but by my little boy. you can only imagine my rage and horror . he missed all the stuff that means alot when teaching a little one . and its taken many yrs to get him where he is today and only by the grace of God and me has this happened . public schools have lost all value and its a pitty i feel for kids today and for the lack of good education and values . there is none . Teaching comes from the heart and ive seen no heart in many schools since that one. we’ve let to much slip through and its ashame. god bless the good teachers an people that truely do care , i dont see anything good coming our way as far as public schools . God help us

HS Public Teacher

October 11th, 2011
7:47 am

Amen!

Yes, a single bad teacher can be a bad thing. However, the % of “bad” teachers is very small from my sampling (3 school districts). And, there are soooooo many other things wrong with education that DO impact student learning.

cindi smith

October 11th, 2011
7:51 am

jazel you couldnt be more wrong . to teach is to encourage and if you cant encourage a child an peek some interest who will . they dont do that on their own . ive worked in all kinds of school settings from specail ed to reg. schools from the slums to beverly hills. kids are kids and they need to be taught and if the teacher is not a good teacher or is unable to be then that child just becomes a product of their enviroment . this i know to be true . they do not encourage themselfs!

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

October 11th, 2011
7:52 am

Jezel,

If the DOC to which you refer in the last paragraph of your 7:11 AM posting today is the Georgia Department of Corrections, your statement is incorrect. That “the DOC gets all the money” is not true.

I ought to e-mail your paragraph to a warden-friend who’s prohibited by departmental budget constraints from filling numerous vacancies for correctional officers in his prison. Of course, he might not have time to read such an e-mail because his facility, like others in the DOC system, is busy trying to keep his facility from blowing up. The lax disciplinary policies promoted by effete school board attorneys and followed by our public school systems for the last four decades has finally penetrated our correctional system. Hopefully, this disciplinary erosion, in conjunction with substantial staff shortages, will not result in scores of inmate and staff injuries and deaths as well as millions of dollars in property damage when the GDOC system inevitably blows up.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

October 11th, 2011
7:57 am

OOPS: Paragraph 2, lines 4 and 5 – “because he’s busy trying to keep his facility, like others in the GDOC system, from blowing up.”

Dr NO / Mr Sunshine

October 11th, 2011
8:00 am

“First, schools reflect our society at large. We as a society no longer respect education and that disrespect comes from all directions”

Thats where ya lost me…

Jimmy62

October 11th, 2011
8:01 am

Why focus on anything? There are a multitude of problems with education, let’s work on all of them.

Another Math Teacher

October 11th, 2011
8:02 am

cindi smith :

Paragraphs. Punctuation. Spelling.

That wall of text you posted is not readable.

mediocre teachers

October 11th, 2011
8:07 am

I think the fact that our school systems allow mediocre teachers just remain mediocre is a much larger question. Paying teachers more for advanced degrees regardless of the subject of the degree was a bad idea, and I’m glad it is finally disappearing. But, we put too much in to those advanced degrees. Teaching is a mixture of science and art – not just science nor just an art. Teachers need theories, but they need to develop practical wisdom for implementing the theories effectively. We need more emphasis on the development of practical wisdom for classroom teachers. The pay raise for an advanced degree, particularly in the field that does not relate to your teaching directly, should have been the first to go instead of the extra for the National Board certification, which has much more of “practice” components in the process.

philosopher

October 11th, 2011
8:17 am

@ really? You have hit the nail squarely on the head. Teachers have great power over children and parents while parents are completely excluded from any academic choices or input. .There is an atmosphere of constant control and secrecy and parents are cleverly controlled and sidestepped on all issues. There is an attitude that no parent concern is legitimate and any attempt to help their child is “hovering”, unreasonable, and not worthy of teacher concern. Every concerned parent knows exactly what it is like to have teachers and administrators “circle the wagon” when he/she has a concern. No teacher I have ever known has ever admitted to a mistake or an error in judgment. “I’m sorry” is not part of the teacher’s dictionary. But a lousy teacher can cause great harm to a child and permanently ruin a kids’ love of learning or trust in the persons with whom they spend a third of their lives. There are certainly more good teachers than bad-but all it takes is one to set a kid back in a big way. There must be accountability and the ability to timely remove bad teachers.
And if kids really mean as much to teachers as a few of you say, (most complain so bitterly, it’s hard to think they do), I’d really like to see teachers DO something about the problems they constantly complain about. If they are legitimate (and most are) then we should see them get out and protest-or provide viable solutions for the kids they say are our future. (Oh, and beating the kids is not a solution.) Let’s see that fervor in the classroom and out!

Jezel

October 11th, 2011
8:18 am

Dr. Spinks…the DOC budget is close to 1 billion a year…which comes from state taxes. What is the budget for the dept, of education? Yes, I know local districts also fund schools.

Their are 800,000 felons in Ga. …1 out of 12 are felons in this state. The national average is 1 out of 32. Are Ga. residents really that much worse? Then why are we spending so much on prisons and so little on education?

Jezel

October 11th, 2011
8:21 am

and it should be ….there..not their

Jerry Eads

October 11th, 2011
8:22 am

Thx, Maureen. There are no silver bullets. That all teachers are not “supermen” is simply a reflection of every other profession: there are bad medical doctors, bad plumbers, bad mechanics (ad infinitum). You think it’s hard to get rid of teachers, try getting a bad doc or plumber or mechanic to stop practicing. That said, I’ll say this another time: while there are MANY parts of the system that can be made better, one of the worst parts of the system is management – no different from any other operation (including, if you noticed Luckovich today, banks). On a shoestring (actually less than that – I think it’s ZERO funding) one state agency is as hard at work as it can be, given no state funding, to improve that mess. Remember there are something like 2400 schools in the state; some of those are run beautifully, others – well, not so much. Figuring out how to objectively identify and then retrain or unload a less than sterling principal (or assistant principal, or department chair, etc.) is just as tough a task as for teachers. And we’ve been digging this hole for a LONG time; Fixing won’t be like flipping a switch.

mystery poster

October 11th, 2011
8:25 am

I thought teachers WERE all the problems in education
<>

mystery poster

October 11th, 2011
8:25 am

Oh, nuts. It said “Sarcasm” in the brackets.

sloboffthestreet

October 11th, 2011
8:31 am

Teachers of Georgia,,,,

You are the best. No where in the nation is there a group that could possibly compare to you. We as parents need to apologize to all of you for not delivering students that are able to learn on their own, and magically know what is important to learn and making certain this is done at home. Again our apologies. Even with the economy impacting many of us who derive our income from for profit companies and having lost jobs that either are no longer needed or being paid less to work these jobs, we realize we should find more money for teachers and if it means not having electricity, well then so be it. We know that all teachers can move to another job tomorrow and earn more money and have better benefits. We all know what a crappy job it is and what terrible parents we are. How you’re abused, disrespected, underpaid and overworked. You have all told us on here day after day, week after week, and year after year. We understand and thank you for your deep concern for our childrens education. Your tireless committment. Your working 12, 13, & 14 hour days all for our childrens benefit. We thank you! Where else could you find such a selfless group of such highly trained, trained again, and then over trained professionals? Only here in the great state of Georgia. Please, Please, Please,,,,, Don’t leave. We are begging you!!!

And to the teachers spouses, we understand that the BMW payments don’t go down as time goes on. We understand that the Disney Vacations cost more every year. How your childrens travel teams require a great deal of time and money. What a great sacrifice you make allowing your spouses to teach the children of Georgia. We as parents also owe you an apology and an undying debt of gratitude. I want to go on about your significant others just a little more. Not that it’s not all about you. Hope you understand.

Teachers, how will our children score an 805 on the CRCT without you? Who will teach them to develop terrible hand writing. {Printing} Who will teach them 5×5 is 5+5+5+5+5? Who will send them home with worksheets day after day having them not knowing how to properly fill in the blanks or what the skill being taught even is? How will they learn how not to compose a sentence properly? How will they enter a community college needing hours or remedial classes just to be accepted into a field of study? How will a great number of these college freshmen fail their first year without you? Again, we’re begging, on our knees, Please don’t go..NNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOO

Greg S.

October 11th, 2011
8:45 am

Hard to fire an ineffective teacher? Ha! Try firing an ineffective politician!

old teach

October 11th, 2011
8:47 am

@slob: You left off

Get me Rex Kramer

October 11th, 2011
8:50 am

The issue is and has always been that too many parents do not get involved with their kids educations. Teachers become over worked when they have to do too much work, because the kids have no disicpline and accountability. My mother taught in public schools for years, and no matter how much money and resources were thrown at the problem, the results ended up the same.

Get me Rex Kramer

October 11th, 2011
8:54 am

There are outstanding teachers and lousy ones, just like workers in the private sector. The difference is that in the private sector, that type of work ethic and performance is easily dealt with by termination. I had wonderful teachers growing up that had a profound influence on my life. They held me accountable. I had just as many that were a complete joke. Those poor performing teachers had terrible reputations for years, and yet they still held their jobs. Nothing seems to have changed.

J Wittenmyer

October 11th, 2011
9:05 am

Why is it that students at a high school like Walton in East Cobb consistently do well and those at a school like South Atlanta consistently do very poorly. What is different ? Obviously household income is vastly different , but so is culture. Those at Walton are children of achievers and have a much better upbringing by parents that are educated and willing to spend time motivating their children and exposing thiem to role models that stress main stream American values. Those at S Atlanta are far less likely to live in a 2 parent household that values education and achievement. The results are plain to see.

MiltonMan

October 11th, 2011
9:08 am

Slob:

“We know that all teachers can move to another job tomorrow and earn more money and have better benefits.”

Wrong. The benefits of a teacher far outweigh many in the private sector. Pension & a 401K plan? Only about 14% of the Fortune 500 companies offer this to its employees.

Also, do not apologize for me. My son is in dental school, another son at Va Tech & a daughter who will be in top 3 out of a class of 700+ students. We decided early on that education was important to our children & we prepared them accordingly for school. Teachers are/were fortunate to have our kids in their class.

V for Vendetta

October 11th, 2011
9:08 am

really?, philosopher,

Yes, yes, yes. I agree. A bad teacher is a “disaster” for some students.

Etc., etc., etc., . . . blah, blah, blah

What about bad parents? I see my students for less than an hour per day; how can I undo the damage done by their parents who see them every minute outside of school and who have seen them for the fourteen years prior to stepping through my doorway? The answer is, I can’t. I can’t compete with that kind of overwhelming negativity. I’ve been THISCLOSE to getting through to some students who find themselves teetering on the edge. But, almost without fail, those poor students who have poor home lives will NEVER–let me repeat that, NEVER–overcome their bad circumstances. If a poor students receives just a little support from his or her parents, they might have a chance at turning things around. But a student who goes home to a culture that is disinterested in education or is largely ignored by his or her parents has no chance and no hope.

Education begins AND ENDS in the home. We do our best to further the pursuit in between.

old teach

October 11th, 2011
9:09 am

Oops, it didn’t print the whole message. This is what is should have said:
@slob: You left off the word “sarcasm!”

HS Public Teacher

October 11th, 2011
9:10 am

The bottom line is that our society looks for quick fixes and latches onto sound bites.

It is easy to point fingers at the classroom teacher. That is all that it is ….. easy to do.

November 6, 2012

October 11th, 2011
9:11 am

You know, all these problems will just disappear when ON-LINE Learning replaces Brick and Mortar High Schools……..you either do it or don’t do it. Those on-line teachers are tough, if you fail, you fail, no social promotions……no discipline problems, no baggy pants, no more clothes that leaves nothing to the imagination. Students will have to be learn to be disciplined and the ones who truly want an education, will. The others (their option) need to be sent to learn a trade to be able to pay their way through life instead of depending on welfare, public housing, food stamps, etc. etc. On – Line learning should also include lessons on how “Not to have babies”. It should also include “How to make change”, and several other life lessons. Folks, there are a lot of school systems that are just not going to be able to be turned around in our lifetimes, not unless something drastic happens.

V for Vendetta

October 11th, 2011
9:13 am

slob,

Quit complaining and go get a second job. It’s what I do during my summer and other breaks–as do many other teachers. Sure, our benefits are good. I can’t wait to enjoy them . . . someday. For the time being, I’ll keep working those other jobs to keep my quality of life where I want it. It’s like everything else in life: if you want something, you have to work for it, earn it. It shouldn’t be handed to you. As for me, I never ask for a bigger paycheck–though I wouldn’t mind one that I felt was commensurate with the importance of my profession. Regardless, I’m happy with what I have from a financial standpoint. As far as BMWs . . . the only ones I see are the ones being leased by the parents dropping off students in the morning. I drive a Mazda 3.

MiltonMan

October 11th, 2011
9:14 am

Teachers complain about the school administration? The majority of school admins are former teachers. Why such a disconnect?

Teachers want smaller classes = more money. Good God the US spends 7.6% of our GDP on education. How much more do we need to spend??? APS students spending is 12k+ per – the most in the state & yet the teachers have to cheat to get these kids socially promoted & ill-prepared for college.

mystery poster

October 11th, 2011
9:18 am

@V
I also drive a Mazda 3, what a great car!

Another Math Teacher

October 11th, 2011
9:26 am

November 6, 2012:

“You know, all these problems will just disappear when ON-LINE Learning replaces Brick and Mortar High Schools……..you either do it or don’t do it. Those on-line teachers are tough, if you fail, you fail, no social promotions……”

Actually, at the schools I work for now, it’s policy for no late work after a certain time frame. Teachers who give extensions are released. Students are expected to finish work ahead of time if they are going to be out.

No more debates with lil Johnnie Does parents about if something was turned in on time (or at all,) everything is time stamped. Most communication is over email so there is no debating what anyone said. Showing an email chain to a parent fixes most problems instantly. Showing them the access logs of their child puts to rest any debate about how Johnnie was working hard the last week. (In reality he was tabbed out chatting with friends.)

It’s awesome.

V for Vendetta

October 11th, 2011
9:29 am

@mystery poster,

Isn’t it?! I love my Mazda!

Ronin

October 11th, 2011
9:32 am

Maybe parents should be responsible for teaching/educating their own children.

demographics

October 11th, 2011
9:37 am

Students from lower IQ groups will always underachieve.

You never see Asian kids complaining about “bad teachers”.

Larken McCord

October 11th, 2011
9:51 am

Thank you, Maureen, for passing this along.

As for the AJC’s consitent perpetuation of the “schools in crisis”/”teachers are the problem” trope, I think it is an excellent reminder that most media is commercial and will therefore reflect whatever attitudes it thinks will deliver the most customers. I am eager to learn how many new subscribers the paper has attracted using this topic as bait.

William Casey

October 11th, 2011
10:00 am

Improving teacher quality is a legitimate topic of concern. Always has been. There is just a difference of opinion as to how much improving teacher quality will improve student achievement. If teacher quality improves 100%, how much would student achievement improve? Certainly not 100%. An analogy from the “real” world is instructive. A patient can have a world class doctor to little avail if the patient refuses to follow the doctor’s instructions. Just saying.

Some thoughts on improving the quality of instruction in high schools:

1. Require teachers to have an undergraduate degree in a subject matter field (math, science, English, history, etc.) and a graduate degree in instruction. Both are important. A deep knowledge and love of subject is important. So is the ability to engage and motivate students. I wasn’t born loving history.

2. Remember that in many cases, one student’s “bad” teacher is another student’s “good” teacher. The teacher/learner relationship is largely a matter of personality. Make an effort to match these. In my experience, there were relatively few really bad teachers. There were quite a few who were bad matches for a particular student.

3. Divorce the academic faculty from athletics. Sports are an important part of the American high school experience but should be organized on a club basis as is done in other nations. Nobody should be in an academic classroom because he is a good football coach. Athletics takes too much time and energy away from the academic classroom even if the coach is a competent teacher.

4. Require all administrators to teach one academic class per year. Teachers often resent “leadership” from those with little or no knowledge/experience about the primary function of the school. Resentment can lead to bad teaching from otherwise good teachers.

One of the problems in dealing with this topic is that everyone believes that he’s an expert because he once attended a school. I’ve eaten at many fine restaurants. Doesn’t make me a chef.

William Casey

October 11th, 2011
10:04 am

@MiltonMan: most administrators have surprisinly little experience in teaching core academic subjects (the ones the kids must pass standardized tests in.)

melanie

October 11th, 2011
10:07 am

Reading most of these post makes me upset & sad…I should not take so long to get rid of a “bad” teacher. In most jobs, if you do not perform or hold your own you are let go within the first few months, not kept for years. I do understand that there are children in the school system that do not have parental support, but once again it is up to you the teacher to go through the proper channels to get help or get the parents involved. I know from past teachers they have told me what a process it is to get a child held back..too much paperwork one teacher told me; another said it is not worth the paperwork & hassle to keep the child another year & another teacher said if I hold a student back, it looks bad on me & the school & they do not like doing that….Really?? We pay enough taxes every year to the school system; it is up to the school system to do their job & do the work they are hired to do..if they can’t they need to go & be replaced with a teacher who can actually teach, love to teach & help the children who need help.

V for Vendetta

October 11th, 2011
10:10 am

demographics,

Based on that comment, it would seem that you are the one from the lower IQ group. If you were of average intelligence, you would understand that there is no difference in IQ based on “race” alone. “Race” is a misperception based on variances in skin color and little else. Culture can have an impact on perceived IQ, but only in the sense that some kids receive better educational nurturing during crucial developmental years. There is no genetic basis for such comments.

Curious parent

October 11th, 2011
10:14 am

I second changing athletics to a club level part of school. Comparing other nations to US, none of those schools have integrated sports into school as we have. It is a plus and a minus. A minus when students get out of class for pep rallies centered around sports teams and not once is academic achievement even announced on the loudspeaker. We hold press conferences for student athlete signing day but not for academic competitions. When there is more press coverage for a mediocre sports team than for a national ranked academic team, there is something wrong with the priorities in the system. Very few people in the US question the overweighted emphasis on sports in schools but everyone I know from other countries just shakes their heads at this US system. I agree there are benefits to organized sports to students but pep rallies instead of class time, sports press coverage instead of academic glory coverage and it is little wonder that perceptive students know which values are truly valued in US schools.

pw

October 11th, 2011
10:18 am

Anyone who thinks the cheating scandal was the result of a few lowly teachers deciding to defraud the test should see me about a bridge I have to sell. I don’t know or care what Beverly Hall knew or didn’t know or turned a blind eye to because it benefitted her. The issue is not our teachers who tirelessly go to work everyday with disappearing resources and administrators just trying to hold on to their jobs. The real issue are the parents. You should know how your child is doing in school daily because you are helping with and reviewing homework. You should know what your child needs help with because you are in communication with the teacher. You know because you’ve requested additional help for your child. But the sad reality is that the majority of parents, especially in minority communities (and yes I am a minority) do not bother to ever attempt these things. My son’s teacher sent a note home the 5th week of school asking parents to please make sure they are signing the children’s work binder and sending homework in every single day. The 5th week of school and she is not getting homework everyday from a 1/4 of her students. So when test time comes and the child does poorly it will now be the teachers fault. Ridiculous.

One final comment – The state of Georgia and their elected officials always talk about how important education is but waste no time in deleting education funding from the budget. And still we are silent.

Tech '10

October 11th, 2011
10:18 am

My parents were very committed to my learning, so much so that I got sent to a very small private school in Fairburn. My mom taught there to help make ends meet. I have firsthand experience of what happens to kids whose parents care and whose parents do not. I was in a class of 33 (like I said, very small) and we all had more or less the same teachers. Some of us went to good schools and majored in challenging degrees and others went to schools they could afford and worked their butts off to make something of it and some of us dropped out of college or never went. For those who dropped out or never went, the trouble began and ended in the home, not the school.