Where Did We Go Astray
in Public Education?
By allowing bureaucrats who think way too much of themselves to grab the spotlight in their quest to gain power, fame, and money through exploitation of our educational system; and by rewarding those who blindly hitch their own wagons to these ‘stars’.
And by bureaucrats, I mean the following folks:
Politicians: these folks thrive on feel-good measures. Their prime motivation regarding anything educational is to convince their constituents that they are working to improve the conditions and learning outcomes of students in our public schools. One such measure they dreamed up, which is failing miserably, is the idea of pay-for-performance. For more on this, read my column on the farcical scheme behind measuring growth in children’s learning as a way to hold teachers accountable.
Entry-level politicians, aka School Board Members: these folks are trying to make a name for themselves in their quest to jump to the ranks of the state senate and beyond. As such, they are eager to back any self-proclaimed education guru who espouses feel-good, quick-fix measures. All it takes is a charismatic superintendent to sway the opinions of these entry-level folks.
Administrators, aka area superintendents, principals, achievement directors, and the big guy himself (the superintendent): these people thrive on power, and speech-making in order to retain that power. They don’t care about much beyond their next promotion and the accolades that their supposed achievements will bring them. All of these people began their career in a classroom as a regular teacher, but most of them implemented their move to achieve stardom outside the classroom within five years of that. What that means is that those in charge of determining things like class-size, budgeting for classroom use, and professional development have not had to work under these provisions for a very long time now. And most of them espouse derisive attitudes about the work that teachers actually do. For more on this, read my column about what accommodations in the classroom really mean.
Anyone who thinks that education has not become a business whereby those in charge profit considerably while those beneath them labor under very unfortunate conditions is living delusionally. It would behoove any person to take a job for a semester as a teacher’s aide in a public school.
THEN, you just might get it.