Sunday, June 10, 2012
I see our state is trying to "fix" the educational system once again with a new law enacted last Thursday. Where to begin? We saw what happened when they tried to "fix" it before. Everything is now about taking and passing tests. And god help the teacher who's class doesn't make the grade or at least increase test scores.
The crux of the bill:
Under the new teacher-evaluation bill, improvement in student test scores will be included on a list of factors principals use to assess teachers. The measure details how a poor evaluation could lead to a teacher's being put on probation or fired.
I think you can figure where all of this is headed. The last educational bill put the main emphasis on testing students but that my friends is not what education is about. Not once has an employer asked me to take a test and that is the main reason for education, to be gainfully employed. Yes it is a requirement to have certifications in my profession but the initial requirements could be completed by a monkey. Just about anyone with a warm breath and the ability to sign their own name could have a start. It's not until upper levels are reached that anything close to college is required.
But what happened just a few years ago when we went from Head Start to No Child Left Behind? Everything became about teaching to a test. The problem? Twofold. Students started to become good test takers and the teachers started to fudge the scores as in grade inflation. I've heard from some past graduates that it was just a matter of showing up on a regular basis that guaranteed a passing grade. What a disservice that is to our kids. High marks might look good on a resume but as we've seen from some of our politicians it's no guarantee of competence. And our system is still geared to an agrarian and industrial economy of the 19th century. Unfortunately modern times require more than just parroting back facts in a business setting.
Texting and chatting and all that has been no help in the advancement of thought for our young people. It's reduced our students to the attention span of a gnat. Good luck trying to teach the classics to this lot. The current abbreviated thoughts has spilled over to other areas as well. It could be the reason that we're showered with an avalanche of promo reminders and upcoming news teases on TV. Sorry but there is no human on the face of the planet who can talk on a phone, text their friends and view a Youtube video at the same time. Please pull over and put the car in park when you do that okay?
All of this should come as no surprise though. The educational system has been on the decline for decades. There's been a multi prong attack from both inside and out. Believe or not Latin was once a requirement for graduating from high school. And the same for a foreign language and higher math. Even the remaining subjects were shortened to fit shrinking budgets and larger class sizes. So much easier to take a test when there's less material to cover or better yet no subject to test. I'd bet none of our current academicians could make it through Macbeth unless there was a Cliff Notes text version.
They say a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. That is definitely true of many today. Buy into the talking points superstitions and myths because it's so much easier to digest. Actual research is such a bother. So time consuming when there's a good game on later or the buds want to play Warcraft right now. This could be one of the factors in why we're becoming a more violent society. Abbreviated messages, a lack of complete understanding and a tendency for knee jerk reactions have lead to where we are right now. And as it continues the students who went through the process will now become the teachers and the teachers of teachers all in a decaying educational system. Here's the other part of the equation that no body's looking at right now. Farming has gone from multiple small farms to gargantuan factory farms with less need of lesser educated workers. So too are the factories shipped overseas for their cheap labor. And employers are no longer willing to train. We can see where this is all headed by the demographics. An aging population and a lesser educated next generation isn't going to make for pleasant times ahead.