3 Education Issues That We Could Solve if Put Forth More of an Effort

If you have been following my work, then you know how passionate I am about reforming the U.S. education system. I believe that if we wanted to, we could have the best education system in the world. The problem that I see is in our pursuit to achieve this, we end up getting in our own way. We let things like politics, racism and corporate greed dictate our educational policies, and in the end, our students lose out. In this article, I want to discuss 3 education issues that we could solve if we put forth more of an effort.

Teacher quality. If we really wanted to, we could ensure that every child in the U.S. was taught by a qualified teacher.

First, we need to ensure that the teaching profession is attractive to the best and brightest high school students. We can accomplish this by doubling teacher salaries and cutting class sizes in half.

Second, we need to make sure that teacher education programs are preparing pre-service teachers for the classroom, and making sure that they can work with diverse populations. Teacher education programs that are not making the grade (pardon the pun) should be placed on probation or dismantled.

And finally, teachers that make it to the classroom should be put in a position to succeed. Teachers with under 3 years of experience should not be assigned to work in schools or classes that contain our most vulnerable kids. When they are, many end up failing and leaving the profession, and their students end up underperforming. Some teachers may be ready for the challenge, but the vast majority of them are not.

Anti-Intellectualism. When compared to their counterparts in other countries, students in the U.S. care less about education. It’s as if the love of learning is missing in the vast majority of our students, and many attend school because they are told to. We need to come up with a systematic plan to get rid of the academic disengagement that has invaded our country like cancer.

Instead of placing blame on factors outside of our control, educators need to focus on those that are. We need to redesign the U.S. education system in a way that will foster more student engagement. Strategies like gamification, virtual reality, personalized learning, adaptive learning, etc., must become enmeshed entirely into the fabric of our classrooms. Why, because these methods have been proven to proven to increase student engagement exponentially.

Accountability. We need to bring back the accountability movement that began with NCLB (No Child Left Behind). I am in no way suggesting that we bring back NCLB, as it was accountability on steroids and demanded that educators live up to unattainable expectations. However, although it was a flawed education policy, its heart was in the right place.

What I am suggesting is a return to the zeitgeist of the accountability era, when educators were made to take responsibility for their student’s achievement. In my mind, using value-added measures would be a good way of judging the success of teachers. Instead of looking at student achievement in a vacuum, we can look at it realistically, by focusing on student growth, which was a tenet of NCLB.

In this way, we can judge teacher performance based on how a student’s academic performance has grown under their watch. To do this, we compare student’s standardized test scores in the present year to their scores in the previous years. We must use standardized test scores because classroom grades can be manipulated by the teacher.

What do you think? Do you agree with my list? Why or why not?

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