A popular definition of insanity is to continually do the same thing and expect different results.
Georgia, we are insane.
Education has been a controversial topic in Georgia since public education became a universal goal of this state and indeed, of the nation. We have spent Billions of Dollars over the past two decades as each Governor and each convened General Assembly has proposed, debated and funded some new approach to our need for improved academic performance, and advancement up a ranking of States by test scores. We remain in lowest 10 percentile on almost every such ranking, and based on the dire predictions of past Governors and legislators, we should be the cattle car of the economic super train.
Strange, last I checked, we were a prosperous state, attracting new businesses, creating new jobs and providing a fine quality of life to those willing to work for it. Our recent painful economic recession is much more the result of flawed federal policy than a failure of our education system.Underemployment and unemployment have occurred as a result of federal regulation and market intervention, and not because Johnny or Lawanda dropped out of high school.
We a blessed in Georgia with a system of counties and home rule school boards that allow greater involvement in education than in many other states. We need to increase the involvement of parents and tax payers, citizens all, in the affairs of school governance. We need to remove the fat finger of federal intervention and funding from our school systems, and most of all we need to stop doing what we have been doing, because we have consistently gotten the same results: test scores which lag behind 90 percent of all other states. We have heard from countless experts. Our school boards have, under external duress, hired “outstanding administrative educators” as superintendents, we have taxed ourselves and built wonderful facilities, and our young children seem very much the same physically, emotionally and mentally now as they were in the past. We have blamed parents, beaten up on teachers, blamed teacher unions and associations, listened to lawyers, bought into every federal program and still we have not improved educational performance.
Its time to look in a new direction, Georgia. It is time to rethink how we teach students, by rethinking how we teach educators. We require certification in subject area, practice teaching, a concentration in “Education Courses.” We have adopted a business model for our administrators, sought efficiencies in instruction and demanded multitasking from our teachers. We have excellent facilities in our many schools of education, and we ave avoided the deep debt of many states in developing Kindergarten through Graduate School facilities through out our state.
What haven’t we done? Its obvious, we have had the same tenured, academically unionized, college and university professional educators instructing our future teachers through all the changes, trough all the Billions of Dollars we have spent. It an old saying, but a true one, certainly about a majority of our college professors, “If you can’t do, teach!”
Few of the professional educators who instruct students on how to teach first grade, or third grade, or high school algebra, have ever taught those grades, those courses as a career. What most do, aside from actually showing up in a classroom all of 12 or 15 hours a week, is read papers, journals and books written by other educators who have never worked a real 40-60 hour week as they now expect our elementary and high school teachers to do.
Much of their federally funded research is self fulfilling prophesy, designed to maintain a steady stream of income for them so they may continue to live well above the standard of living normal classroom teachers experience. Depending on who has the power of the purse in Washington, these venial educators are first to agree with any philosophy that secures their position, status and income.
No child left behind? What a load of manure. They long ago left those children behind in the rear view mirrors of their ostentatious German engineered cars.
Testing is more important than learning? Grades are more important than competency? There is no need for a stable welcoming learning environment for single parent children or latch key kids? Teachers fill out needless and useless forms for the benefit of providing a job for some federal bureaucrat, who frankly doesn’t care, and can’t easily be fired for their contempt of America’s children. Special needs children are welcomed in segregated classes, and taught by under trained, harried teachers, ill prepared to deal with the emotional and psychological debris of modern family life. Children can’t even find Macon on a Georgia map, or tell you the story of the American Revolution in Georgia, or any of the other twelve colonies.
These college educators, in concert with old white legislators or ambitious young neo-cons have stripped recess and exercise from grammar school playgrounds, taken tubas and violins from high school music classes, and seen that swill is served in school cafeteria by conglomerates with political connections. Why should they care when many of their children and grand children go to private schools?
Wake up Georgia! We need a commission to study those who are instructing our future teachers, we need to replace the fat cat deans and school presidents with men and woman who will work for less and produce more. We don’t need experts, we need active school boards that begin again to ask, as they once did, why are you teaching that? Is this the best way to accomplish the goal of education our children? Frankly we need to ask “Who made them so wise, so smart that in 20 years and with Billions of Dollars for them to spend our children read no better than they did those twenty years ago.”
We need to elect to our school boards men and women, regular folks, who will demand and propose common sense reforms of every school that instructs teachers. We don’t need nor should we want them “instructed” on the role of school boards, on the proper “governance” of school boards, or in any way being prohibited from “interfering” in the materials, teaching practices and administration of public schools. The school board is elected by the people, school district superintendents are not, and these arrogant so called “competent and professional” administrators are the very ones who have spent Billions of Dollars and failed to achieve any improvement in our children’s education!
Damn the research, forget the PhD, no one should instruct a future teacher until and unless they have spent ten years in a elementary classroom or high school classroom teaching the very subjects they now will instruct college students to teach.
Here’s the point, Anyone with a doctorate in Physics and tell you how and why an airplane can fly, but if I want to learn to fly, I want someone who has flown for years to teach me how to fly.
Remember what I earlier wrote, “Those who can’t do, teach” Let me ask you a question: How many jobs will the average Harvard educated Economist create to lead us out of this recession? And, how many Deans of Schools of Education in Georgia could teach a fifth grade class, standing on their feet all day, for a year or two or ten? Frankly, how many want to do that? Imagine we offer these Deans a 10% salary bonus for each year they teach in an elementary or high school, and a 100% retirement income if they teach children any age 4 to 18 for the next ten years. How many would take that offer? I think you know the answer.
These deans, these professors, those professional researchers aren’t willing or qualified to teach our youngest students. Why should we allow them to instruct our future teachers? Why should we continue to do the same thing and expect different results? Why Georgia?
My next essay on this topic will ask this question:
What is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and why are these non-elected mercenary evaluators telling elected Georgia School Boards how to operate and what to teach!