Today in the news, I read about, “Arne Duncan Responds to Gov. Jindal’s Lawsuit Against the Obama Administration”: http://news.yahoo.com/video/yahoo-news-exclusive-arne-duncan-100241190.html
The discussion was about the Federal Government’s controversial “Core Curriculum”.
Personally, I disagree with Jindal, Duncan, and Core Curriculum and I think my reasoning is probably in agreement with most competent professional teachers and opposed by the formidable powers who have other selfish interests, as well as incompetent teachers who consider teaching a job, and not a profession by choice.
To quote the Federal Government, “the Common Core State Standards provide clear and consistent learning goals to help prepare students for college, career, and life”.
For me as a school teacher and my colleagues, the “Common Core Curriculum” is a horror story for students; and, obviously the common Core was devised by someone who had never been a competent well trained teacher and represents the interests of business, industry, and colleges instead of students. Public Schools were not established for the selfish interests of colleges or employers.
The first thing a journeyman teacher would say about “Core Curriculum” is that every student is different and you adapt the curriculum to the student; secondly and related, students learn fast and easy if they are learning something they want to learn and something they know their selves that they need to learn; but students see no need for ‘busy work’ and learning something they interpret as “busy work” required by business, industry, colleges, core curriculum, and the Federal Government.
Kids have to believe they need to learn something, before they are willing to excel in it; that is obvious to a competent teacher. Core Curriculum is something the students see as something someone else (business, industry, and colleges) wants them to ‘have to know’. Every kid isn’t going to college nor does he need to go to college, and the public schools do not exist to train students to be employees of business and industry, despite what business, industry, and the colleges would like for parents and students to believe.
Our forefathers believed Public Schools as essential in a democracy, and the Public Schools are for the explicit purpose of our democracy having an informed electorate; public schools are a necessity in a democracy.
Public Schools do not exist to prepare students for life; Public Schools are a part of life for students and it should be productive and pleasant accomplishment. A professional teacher accommodates the students; the Federal Government Common Core wants the students to accommodate the Federal Government.
Core Curriculum stifles learning and teaching in the Public Schools. The Federal Government needs to know that kids are not stupid and kids already know what they need to learn to succeed if they want a happy, contented life; students are intelligent and capable of rational thinking and they would try to learn on their own, if they didn’t have the help of a public school teacher. That’s what teachers are for.
The public needs to know that our Public Schools are not totally failing the taxpayer nor the students. There has always been good and bad teacher and good and bad schools. Most important, there has always been a shortage of competent professional teachers.
Some critics have tried to compare American Public Schools with foreign schools to show American teachers and schools are inferior. That is not true and this is why?
For five years, I lived in Europe and have seen their schools first hand; like America they have good and bad schools and good and bad teachers and good and bad school boards.
On basic difference that I did find, was that Foreigners do have more respect for teachers than Americans do today, and teachers are paid comparatively more, and foreign teachers are valued more by the public, than American teachers, are; but foreign schools still have good and bad teachers.
To compare American schools and teachers with those in foreign countries requires empirical evidence and the result depends entirely on the evaluation device used and comparability of the students. As a professional teacher I would have to tell you that there is no acceptable evaluation device. Scores on standardized tests evaluate individual students’ intellect and incentive and do not evaluate their schools or their teachers. Teaching is an art and a science and has too many unmeasurable variables to adequately compare teaches.
What I saw in Europe is good foreign teachers and incompetent foreign teachers. I also saw good school board presidents and extremely selfish and sadistic school board presidents, and School Board Presidents had total control of hiring and firing teachers (just like American school boards).
Here is how I would evaluate American Public Schools and teachers; in America we still produce intelligent and highly educated student graduates. Unfortunately none of our best and most qualified student graduates ever become politicians and run for office, it is beneath their dignity. This also explains the invalid criticism of education by politicians.
Americans have totally missed the cause of today’s American “educational problems”, and this is the way I see it.
Today, America is under the influence of some exceedingly wealthy men who believe America is not a democracy, was never intended to be a democracy, and America should not be a democracy. They believe democracy is ‘mob rule’ (their words).
These wealthy opponents of democracy in America, need to control student minds. And they know fully well that America’s Public Schools are democratic and public schools are not allowed to legally indoctrinate students; and further, they are aware that private schools exist in America for the primary purpose of indoctrinating students in religious, political, or other ideologies (for example, religious private schools indoctrinate students in a particular religion, this is acceptable and there is nothing wrong with it).
However, those men who want to eliminate democracy from America also need to eliminate public schools and privatize education that their private schools will allow them to then indoctrinate students in their anti-democracy ideology and control those students’ minds.
These wealthy men are united in the non-profit, tax exempt John Birch Society “educational organization” and their manifesto is clearly written in the John Birch Society Bluebook, 1961; more information go to www.jbs.org These opponents of democracy and Public Schools work through front group organizations like the Tea Party, ALEC, and other educational reform organizations that they can control (including the Republican Party, as in Wisconsin).
It is these people who are the primary critics of American Education and want to control it through their “Reform” organizations. This is an insidious conspiracy, proven by history and fact that is slow to being exposed. Most Americans still appear not to be aware of it. It gets no publicity in the Corporate America media news.
In conclusion I would have to tell you that a good American teacher is just as good as a good Japanese or German teacher or any other teacher. America’s schools are still graduating well educated students who become excellent professionals and day labor who are content with their lives. And that is what our Public Schools are established to do.
Some American schools and teachers are excellent and some American schools and teachers are inadequate, as has always been the case.
One huge problem of American schools is the fact that Boards of Education in America are totally responsible for the hiring and firing of teachers, and they often find incompetent teachers more economical than talented teachers; furthermore, there is and always has been a shortage of excellent and competent teachers. In that teacher shortage, school boards feel compelled to hire second choice teachers, who consider teaching simply a job and not a profession serving students. The problem in America is the lack of competent teachers devoted to student welfare.
And potential teachers, who want to be teachers, do not see a lot of incentive to make the teaching profession their life’s ambition. The reputation of teachers, due to the current criticism of Public School teachers, has sunk below that of the lowest professions, and the income and working conditions are worse than other jobs or professions.
What America needs most of all, to resolve our problems in education, are competent teachers to serve the needs of students.