Our Education System Needs Help

For years the focus in education has been on band-aids.  Based on the way that the education system has been set up at the local, state and national levels the band aids are necessary.  That’s because the system is continually trending towards mediocrity and the only way to deal with the decreasing quality of education that the system provides is to patch it up.   You know the patches, you hear about them all the time:  increase accountability, increase standardized testing, increase documentation, project based learning, standards based learning, formative assessment, summative assessment, intervention, teach to proficiency, remove tenure, do merit pay…  Exhausting.  The problem is that with every tweak to the system, with every supposed fix the bad teachers are rarely getting any better and the good teachers are getting more and more disenfranchised.  So what is the solution?

I would contend that the solution is obvious to most everyone.  Put good teachers in the classroom.  The problem with that statement is equally obvious.   Most of the top talent in our country doesn’t want to be in the classroom because the compensation isn’t there.  The old saying that people went into education for July and August was probably never true, but certainly isn’t now.  For most people it’s just not worth it.  Even the idealists are having trouble now.  I read an article recently about an Ivy League student who joined Teach for America after college because she believed in the idea of it, but after her two year commitment she realized that her belief in the mission wasn’t enough.    

But what if it was?  What if those excuses were gone and what if we actually put the best of the best in the classroom.  Would we still need to come up with a newer, better band aid every year?  What if our best teachers took home six figures a year?  Would more people be drawn to the profession?  Would we keep those idealistic teachers in the fold?  What if we could change the system without relying on the system to change?  Think of what might be possible…

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