We talk about testing students and teacher shortages and these are indeed problems with education and our schools. But what about curriculum? What about parents? What about the students?
There are reasons that education is in trouble. We are still not talking about those roots causing the problems. We are talking about distractions, such as the history curriculum and sex education, when really the subject is acceptance of others, the importance of lifelong learning, reading, respect, safety, and kindness.
The rest are distractions. Students are way behind in math and reading according to some recent statistics citing where they should be in third grade. I hear this. Poorer students are further behind more affluent students according to some recent studies. I also just read a study that showed that both affluent students and students with less have similar access to teachers who are highly rated by the system's standards.
So what are we not talking about? We are not talking about the contributions and values that should be coming from the home. We are not talking about students who have little interest in learning because it is not a value that they can relate to. We are not talking about the interference and distraction of technology and how to manage it. We are not talking about the screaming parents who should have been sitting with their children during the pandemic and helping them to read. 20 minutes a night. That is all that is necessary for parents to help and reinforce their child's learning. We are not talking about neighborhoods that have a culture of drugs and violence and how that gets in the way of students' focus and abilities. Yes, children were affected by the pandemic. Everyone was affected by the pandemic but the problems were already showing their ugly faces before the pandemic.
First of all, it is not totally up to the schools to teach the children. Second, we must start teaching them manners and social skills in pre-school. And yes, you can work on these at home, as well. We must instill in them a sense of positivity and confidence. We must instill in them that lifelong learning is fun and necessary or we won't get anywhere.
As one who retired during the pandemic, I left because so many students were disrespectful and misbehaved. So many students disappeared or just showed up to be a distraction or interact with their friends. It is very frustrating to have students who have no interest in learning. How are you supposed to teach them against their will? I left because of a lack of discipline and structure within the school. I left because of parent grandiosity and interference. I left because a 7- hour job was really a 16 hour job. I left because their was not proper communication between staff and administration and politicians. Administration was constantly trying to divide the staff, intimidate us, and support the parents or students against us. I left because the paperwork got so unbearable that one hardly had time to write and organize lesson plans and teach.
Thank God there are teachers who still want to work, even if it's to secure their own future. There are teachers who still want to work because they have some kids who want to learn and can focus on helping them. I would do that. I have said it before and I will say it again. Teaching is a calling. Yes, it would be nice to be paid more for our efforts, and that may be a way to lure people into the field. But if you are going to stick any Tom, Dick or Harry into the classroom and expect your child to catch up, I think your expectations are out of line, and again, another form of disrespect towards teachers.
We have to dig deeper and hold our expectations high if we want our students to "catch up." The pandemic is easy to blame but it is not the root cause. It just exaggerated what was already there.
By Leslie K. Brooks M. Ed, Educator, Author
Read my book. Education Aggravation: A Retired Teacher's View from the Trenches - A Call to Action.