Saturday, January 11, 2014

Our perceived worth = budget cuts

I know it's been a while since my last post. The holidays are a busy time in our house, and I tried to spend as much time away from social media as I could. It was nice. Until, I decided to check Twitter on New Years Eve and saw the local paper tweet out a headline and link to an article "School District Expects Deficit." Perfect... I had to click and read the latest in the state school funding drama. The state government isn't increasing the per student allocation for the 5th year in a row. The response from our Superintendent came off as whiny with a hint of doomsday-ish sadness. That's just in my opinion of course. But, that has been our district's stance for years now. Didn't get what we want? Threaten to raise class size and cut teachers! The world is ending!! The state hates education!!

Geez.. Enough is enough already. The truth is we need to pay teachers what they are worth. Right now, there is an overall feeling, Nationwide mind you, that the education system isn't working at a respectful level. Our media outlets don't help the matter with most news stories in education focused on negative headlines (earlier post about this, here). The best of us teachers are so busy working hard for our students that we don't spend extra time selling what we are doing to media outlets for coverage. Our admins are bogged down with paperwork from their bosses that they are trapped (sometimes by choice) in their offices, and the figure heads of our districts are just that. They are not out in the classrooms observing the front lines and noticing the outstanding efforts of the teachers and getting the proper PR out about our schools. 

Instead, we have another "don't fund our underperforming schools" headline. Great. Exactly how is that going to help? Who in their right mind will look at all of the negative perceptions of education and think, "wow that sounds like a great career!" Decreased funding, teacher cuts, schools with leaking roofs (yup mine does), and negative media coverage will not help change the course of education! In fact, that will only further hurt our students as the best of us teachers get fed up, and find success in other career fields. 

The thing that will fix all of our problems is a new system for training teachers. That starts at the University level and continues with our educational leaders. But that change is hard, and requires a University and a district to overhaul the teacher prep structure. There's no incentive for a University to do that, because people will pay tuition to get a teaching degree regardless. And if the teacher is just mediocre at best it doesn't hurt the University, they got their money. Most districts are more focused on finding a fix-all curriculum that scripts lessons for teachers, so that all teachers will be the same. Stupid.  Scripting mediocre teachers will still lead to mediocre educations for our kids, and doesn't solve any problems. We just spend more money on a curriculum and resources that inflate the pockets of someone else. 

In the end, we have to simply create better teachers that inspire students, and demonstrate to everyone that there is value in funding education. To give credit to our governor, he did say that he would consider a base raise if he knew the spending was going to something that would help change the system. Seems to me that this would be the best time to show a new teacher training program that funnels money to creating a better teaching crew. But, I'm sure that won't happen, and our educational leaders will silently support the notion that our teacher's aren't cutting it. That the money we need will go to technology and curriculum that will make our teachers better. It won't. And the quality of education will continue to be questioned, and teacher value will fall some more. 

So, what's a guy to do? hmm.. Reminds me of a Clash song... And if I go, the trouble, could still be there, but if I stay... maybe it'll double.... Crap. 

1 comment:

  1. HI Ken,
    First of all, thank you for sending me the blog. I love social media for those purposes.
    I think what you allude to is an issue many schools across the country are facing (which you said). It's such a complicated issue. Do some teachers need to improve...yes? Do some leaders need to improve...yes? Do some families need to improve the way they embrace education...yes? Do most politicians have to change the way they talk about education...absolutely.
    Recently there was a great breakdown of how the US did on PISA. The US has 22% of our children living in poverty and yet 38% of the children who took the PISA from the US were living in poverty. Why such a large percentage? Why does the US federal system constantly want to set us up to fail?
    That all has to do with what you wrote about. Given the political ramifications and the amount of negative dialogue around education, why would our younger generation want to go into education? We have teachers who are parents telling their children not to go into education. How do we make that shift to show and prove that education is a worthy career during a time of budget cuts and political battles?
    Thanks for your blog.