We Don’t Need No Education

 

In a 2016 national survey of college freshman, the number of students who say they will major in education has reached its lowest point in 45 years. Just 4.2 percent intend to major in education compared to 11 percent in 2000, 10 percent in 1990 and 11 percent in 1971. Combine that with poor rates of teacher retention in public schools and I think it’s safe to inform Houston that we have a problem. Baby boomers are leaving the profession and there’s no one coming up to fill those spots.

Anyone care to guess why this is happening?

Let’s start with the fact that we are raising a generation of students who feel entitled and believe teachers are powerless to control them because of litigation threats. Students have little respect for their teachers because their parents show little respect.
Parents don’t want to hear the truth about their child so bad grades are the fault of the teachers and not due to a lack of effort by the student. As a result, grade inflation is sometimes easier than arguing to deaf ears. It must get tiring for teachers trying to raise both the student and the parent. How sad is that?

So why enter a field where salaries fall well behind other professions also requiring advanced degrees?

Why enter a field where student/teacher creativity has now been replaced by standardized testing which changes every few years in order to benefit those marketing the product at the expense of children.

Why enter a field where we make evaluations based on a single test instead of a body of work over a period of months? Because everyone is a great test taker, right?

Why enter a field where teacher bashing has become a popular pastime headed up by some ignorant politicians whose only purpose is promoting their retaliation agenda against a union who decided not to back their election campaigns?

The students entering college today are the generation of no child left behind. They are the ones who remember teachers opening a manual and reading/teaching from it with no sense of creativity allowed. Young people especially in this age of technology, want to feel they can be creative in whatever field they choose to pursue. They’ve already experienced the teaching field from the other side of the desk and they’re not impressed.

Finland probably has the finest education system in the world because in large part, they pay their educators well, respect the profession and allow for creativity while keeping the workload and class sizes low. As a result, their system attracts some of the best students to the teaching field.

Most people think teachers are overpaid with lots of time off, short work days and great benefits. If anyone thinks that’s true, I’d ask you to go up to a dozen or so teachers and ask them if they would encourage anyone to choose the teaching profession today. Considering the perception that many people have of their easy lives, their answers will probably surprise you. If you’re brave enough to stick around they may even elaborate their reasons for you.

We have an education problem in this country that no amount of standardized testing is going to correct. It’s like saying the Johnstown flood could have been prevented with a patch of concrete.

Lets stop the insults, begin holding our children accountable and support ways to educate our children properly. Because as we all know….

a mine es a terble ting to wayste. 

52 thoughts on “We Don’t Need No Education

  1. Paul

    I think we have the exact opposite problem here in Canada. We seem to have too many teachers and not enough positions for them, so a lot of new teachers move abroad to teach.

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    1. George Post author

      We had the same situation here some years ago. Teachers could pick their spots and districts were competing for the better ones. Things have changed. Thanks for your thoughts, Paul.

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  2. jan

    I agree with you entirely. Many parents have no respect for teachers. Of course, I have run into tenured teachers who really shouldn’t be in the profession so it’s a complex issue.

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    1. George Post author

      I agree, Jan. There are teachers that should never have chosen the profession, which pretty much holds true for any profession. Parents are a major consideration here.

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  3. aFrankAngle

    Many good thoughts in this post. The past 30 years has been a sharp movement toward standardized testing … and yes, I agree with the problems you have correlated to this. I still recall an DOE official in my state saying something quite profound many years ago and it resonated with me for a long time and probably is still valid today.

    (I paraphrase, but I’m very close) “Ohio is improving and I have the stats to prove it. But the major question is, Is this the system we want to perfect?”

    You may enjoy some of my past posts on education.
    The need to reform https://afrankangle.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/on-educational-reform-the-need/
    The difficulties of reform https://afrankangle.wordpress.com/2009/09/10/on-school-reform-the-difficulties/

    I did a series that was a collection of thoughts and phrases that I wrote during my teaching days … then organized them into topics. This link is to the last in the series of 5, but at the end of the post are the previous 4. I recommend starting at the first. https://afrankangle.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/on-view-of-education-vol-5-curriculum/

    Then again, it’s OK to ignore all this drivel.

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    1. George Post author

      The DOE officials comment is interesting, Frank and being in education, you have a better understanding of the problems. I will read your earlier posts which I’m sure is not drivel..:). Thank you for your thoughts.

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      1. aFrankAngle

        I definitely marched to the change & reform drummer, so the comment by the DOE person really stuck with me. Powerful & telling … but also meaningless to the masses in and out of the profession.

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    1. George Post author

      There’s so much to fix, Jodi that it’s hard to know where to begin. I would first eliminate these controversial standardized tests which hamstring the teacher and do nothing for the children. I would leave politicians, who have never sat in a classroom, out of the equation, and create better dialogues between educators, parents and administrators that would help a student reach their full potential. We need to let teachers teach and parents be active participants in the process but not to the point where they dictate or are not realistic to their child’s abilities. But I’m not a teacher so I’m guessing they may have other issues they feel are more important.

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      1. Jodi

        I think you offer great advice George! I thought you were a teacher – you often sub – right? I think politicians have sat in classrooms – but their agendas are sadly forgetting what it is like. You are a wise man. Preach it George! 🙂

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      2. George Post author

        Thanks, Jodi. I started subbing in my second, semi retired life..:)
        Yes, unfortunately politicians do what’s best for their political life.
        Hopefully we find a way make this better…for all of us.

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  4. Carrie Rubin

    I come from a family of public school teachers, so this post is near and dear to my heart. I’m sure my sister and other family members who are teachers would be nodding their heads in agreement. Not only do they work long hours, they often have to buy room supplies with their own money and have snacks available for hungry kids (which always breaks my heart to hear). And then there are the helicopter parents who make a teacher’s job even more difficult. A tough profession for sure, and one that does not get the respect it deserves.

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    1. George Post author

      I couldn’t agree more, Carrie. The perception of what a teachers hours and the amount of work they put in are so skewed it defies logic at times. And yes, so much money comes out of their own pockets including snacks for kids who either can’t afford them or their parents forgot to pack them. So instead of letting a child sit there watching their classmates snack, teachers will buy and keep extras in their classroom. We can talk about helicopter parents all day and I’m sure your family members have too many unpleasant stories to share.

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  5. Kim Gorman

    I love this post and I could go on and on responding to it but I will spare you. I work with students at the college level and let me just say the k-12 public system is not helping to prepare them for the rigors of higher education for all the reasons you stated and then some. You couldn’t pay me enough to be a public high school teacher forced to peddle Common Core and teaching to the text against my will. They have such a hard job with all the bulsh they have to put up with.

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    1. George Post author

      Thank you, Kim. I know I could have gone on writing but there’s just too much going on to list it all. I used to be surprise by how many teachers say they would never recommend this profession to anyone coming in today. After subbing in the elementary and middle school classrooms, I can understand why. It’s really so disturbing and frustrating to watch.

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  6. davidprosser

    The arrogance and ‘You can’t touch me’ attitude of some students means they don’t have the commonsense to realise they’re not getting the best education out of the system designed to give them just that. They go on to populate our industries who think they can cut corners and have children of their own who again go to school with the attitude that they rule the roost.
    I can’t understand why every country hasn’t adopted the Finnish system and /or allowed some corporal punishment back into school to allow a modicum of control.
    Hugs

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    1. George Post author

      There’s a domino effect that is in play here and the circle just keeps getting larger. Kids are smart, they hear their parents talking take that attitude with them to a classroom. Years ago, if we were reprimanded in school we’d be afraid to go home and tell our parents. Not so now.

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  7. Nurse Kelly

    Totally agree with every single thing you said. Accountability is the only answer – the foundation from which everything else follows. Great post, George.
    P.S. – where’s the Pink Floyd video?!

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    1. George Post author

      Couldn’t agree more, Kelly. There is no consequence for actions any longer. Cause and effect doesn’t exist.
      I thought about including The Wall as part of this and so impressed that picked up on this..:) but I should have known you would…:)

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  8. vanbytheriver

    Like Kelly, I thought of Pink Floyd.☺Great post, George. I started out as a teacher, and always was one, just not in the traditional school setting. I went back as a sub quite a few times, and was amazed at the changes in each decade. There’s just too much to say about this one, but you addressed so many key points, and so well. Thanks. ❤️

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    1. George Post author

      You’re right, there really is too much to say and not nearly enough space..:) I think those who have been teaching for a period of time are really upset by the changes that have taken place and those who came to it more recently never expected what they’re finding.
      I always figured you for a Pink Floyd fan so I’m not surprised you knew the song…😊

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  9. Kate Crimmins

    My niece left an elementary teaching position because of the parents. She could break out in hives after parent-teacher week. The kids weren’t so bad (yet) but the parents were. They wanted to categorize their child (advanced, special, whatever) to gain advantages. It didn’t matter if the child fit or not. We had one parent locally move his kid around different school districts based on football teams. He was intent on making his child a professional football player. I love teaching but not kids. I did adult education in business where people are there because they want to be or need to be for their job. Big difference.

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    1. George Post author

      I’m not surprised about your niece, Kate. Parents are a big factor her and the stories, as your niece can attest to are endless and disturbing. I don’t know how this is going to play out but I can’t see it being positive.
      The thing about athletes has gotten crazy. Kids are going to private/Catholic schools hours from their homes just because that school is a powerhouse and may get them into a Division 1 school for a specific sport. Parents are out of control.

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  10. Ann Coleman

    Great post, George! I can’t tell you the number of really good teachers I know who are completely burned out, can’t wait to retire (if they haven’t already) and it is not because they are tired of teaching the way they want to teach. They love kids and they want to teach. It is because they can’t meet the impossible demands that are made of them, and they all seem to agree that the situation is getting worse every year. Depending on which teachers you talk to, the problems are the parents, the students’ sense of entitlement, common core, standardized testing, main-streaming special needs students without providing assistance to deal with their needs, and administrators who don’t support them. And those who are running the districts seem to have taken lessons from the government on how to create ineffective bureaucracy.

    It’s no wonder no one really wants to teach anymore. But it really makes we worry about our future, because education is so important! And we so desperately need good teachers. Dang, I said more than I meant to…sorry for taking up so much space in your comment section!

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    1. George Post author

      I agree with every word you wrote, Ann. Like you, I’m concerned for the future, for our grandchildren and the direction this is taking them. This post could have gone on for a lot longer but there are just too many issues and no real solutions on the horizon. I have to believe people will come to their senses at some point. To think otherwise is depressing.
      Also, you never need to apologize here for the length of your comments. I’ve enjoyed everything you’ve ever written or offered your thoughts on. Why would I want to curb that in any way…:) Keep writing as much as you like. Your comments only enhance my posts..:) Thank you.

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      1. Ann Coleman

        Thank you, George! Seriously, you are one of the nicest people I know. And your words are ALWAYS worth reading, so I’m always glad to see a new post by you, or a comment by you on my post or someone else’s post I happen to be reading.

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  11. Carol Ferenc

    This is such a sad situation. I don’t know what the answer is, but I feel for the teachers out there who are trying to do a good job. I think Finland has the right idea ~ respect the teachers and pay them a wage they can actually live on.

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    1. George Post author

      You’re right, Carol, it is difficult for them right now as it is for the students. If a place like Finland is so successful, one would think we’d at least try to see if we could adopt those same principles. After all, we are really investing our children, our future.

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  12. Jennifer Kelland Perry

    This is so sad. George, I recently heard a couple of young teachers discussing how their profession is not at all what they had envisioned. Lack of respect from students is a big part of it. They are actually considering going back to train for something else, even though they will be turning their backs on the one thing they had always wanted.

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    1. George Post author

      It is sad, Jennifer. It’s hard to be disillusioned by something you’ve dreamed of doing. While I spoke of how many teachers are retiring, you’re right about how many younger ones are re-thinking their career path and looking to now do something else. I don’t know where this will eventually end up but I hope smarter people figure this out.

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  13. Dale

    Brilliant post, George. I am surrounded by teachers and hear their laments often. I always think of that cartoon that perfectly depicts today’s parent-teacher relationship.

    Kids aren’t being raised by their parents, teachers aren’t allowed to discipline kids, helicopter parents, restrictions left, right and centre and the dumbing down by lowering standards so everyone passes… drives me nuts.
    I say kudos to the teachers who are horribly under-paid (especially here in Quebec) with over-stuffed classes who, sometimes, manage to truly inspire their students…

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    1. George Post author

      You’re right, Dale. We really should celebrate those teachers who, in spite of all the obstacles placed in front of them, continue to be all they need to be for their students.
      I wonder…Paul from Toronto responded to this post and mentioned that they have the opposite problem there in terms of having an abundance of teachers. Is that prevalent throughout Canada or is it more regional?

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      1. Dale

        I read Paul’s comment and started wondering about that. I.was planning on asking my brother-in-law if this was the case in Quebec…

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  14. socialbridge

    Hi George, teachers are a respected profession here in Ireland and there is a growing awareness that we need to bring a lot more creativity into the whole system rather than work towards exams in a way that encouraged rote learning, tedium and the breaking of individual spirit.
    What is worrying, though, is that the recession has meant significant cuts in teachers pay and very little recruitment of teachers on a permanent contract. New teachers are being expected to work for a lot less than seems acceptable and this is definitely hitting morale which is terrible as it is going to produce a generation of teachers who feel that they are perceived as having much worth and I fear that this will have awful implications for their pupils as well.
    Both my sibs are teachers and I certainly see the level of commitment that the profession involves.

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    1. George Post author

      Creativity is so important for children and to take that away because of standardized testing seems wrong. Teaching used to be a respected profession here, as well. Once politicians got involved things seemed to change. It’s so sad. It’s a difficult but rewarding life, or it has been in the past. I think for those who continue, it’s because of their love of children because it’s certainly not the money or stress from parents.
      Thank you, Jean.

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  15. joylovestravel

    Thought provoking and despairing George for sure. We have those standardized tests too in this country, soul destroying and parents and teachers alike focus on them to the exclusion of all else. We actually moved our son when he was 8 to a school where they opted out of these things – it was so refreshing. He thrived creatively and guess what – although he is only 12 he firmly states he wants to be a teacher, that might change but I definitely feel he has been inspired along the way by some creative minds not strangled by tests and rules.

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    1. George Post author

      Stifling creativity in a child is a sin and you’re right, those standardized tests destroy the soul of both the child and the educator. I’m glad you moved your son and he has been able to what being a teacher really means.

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  16. gpicone

    No one wants socialism but everyone wants to cap teacher salaries, eliminate their right to bargain freely and have the government decide how much they will have to pay out of pocket to defray their employers healthcare costs…and if you live in a state like NJ, our governor is taking our pension money to defray taxes for everyone else. And These are all socialist reforms demanded and/or meekly accepted by a capitalist citizenry! Yet raising taxes or restoring previous tax rates on the wealthy to help pay for things is a socialist bridge too far for Americans! We are a stupid and greedy country and our stupidity and greed know no bounds.

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    1. George Post author

      I agree about our greed and stupidity and how we approach the obvious problems in ways that defy logic. Most Americans don’t understand Socialism and fear what we don’t know. I’m not sure that’s the answer but maybe there is a middle ground we haven’t explored yet. What’s happening in our state of NJ is a joke and has been since Whitman began stealing from the pension. The band has been stretched as far as possible. The question is what happens after it snaps.

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