If you haven’t seen this video, you may want to set aside 40 minutes and give it a watch. This is John Stossel’s 20/20 report about how public education in the United States is failing its students.
While watching this report I kept going back and forth agreeing and disagreeing with what was being said in the interviews and how the story was being directed. I taught in the public school system in California for 5 years before moving overseas in 2001. Students in my district were learning, engaged and progressing (albeit I taught grade 3, and the video states that as American students progress through school, they begin falling further and further behind their international counterparts).
Here are some of my questions and thoughts about Stupid in America:
Tenure – What other profession has this security embedded in the system? If a doctor is failing her patients, more than likely, she will not have a job. Why should teachers be so secure?
That being said, people are not “on” all the time. Teachers have off days. The boys on Wall Street had some off days and received bonuses. How is one to judge and prove that a teacher is ineffective?
Why is the public education system allowed to be a monopoly?
Why can parents not choose where to send their children?
Teachers also have to deal with so many other factors (emotional instabilities, parent inadequacies, abuse at home, etc.)
Rewarding teacher based on performance as is done in other industries is not feasible as there are so many outside factors involved beyond a teacher’s control.
The 6 hour, 40 minute day part is rubbish! I do not know a single teacher who has ever worked that short of a day.
Students having teacher’s cell phone number and schools requiring teachers to be available for “after-hours” help, is taking things a bit too far.
Why is school money not attached to a child, as in the case in Belgium and other countries?
People who use, “It never has been, it never will be” as a reason, generally do not know what they are talking about.
All in all, it is obvious that there is a major dilemma happening in the US public education system. It’s not as black and white as the video purports, but changes need to be made and Stossel asks some tough questions. To follow the debate that has ensued since this story broke, you can check out ABC’s page devoted to this.
“I’m a good teacher. I don’t need tenure to protect my job, I need tenure to be gone to protect my students.”