Our View: Catch-22
September 15, 2007
Craig — Somehow, at Monday’s editorial board meeting, the conversation steered to education.
After 60 minutes of going back and forth on various issues, from funding and parents, to curriculum and teachers, the only consistent theme the board could come up with is this – the education system has problems.
And one of its biggest issues is there are so many issues, and school systems are caught in a Catch-22 on many of them.
Case and point: You have a federal program that has a mandate to leave no child behind. Resources are poured into ensuring that all children get a solid education.
In theory, it sounds good, right?
But the problem, in the editorial board’s opinion, is resources are seemingly being poured into those who are behind. This creates a system where teachers are forced to cater most of their time to those not making the grade. What happened to this is the standard and you need to be here or you fail? The problem with failure, it seems, is it’s viewed not an individual or family’s failure, but the school system’s.
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And perhaps the current is why teachers have actually told parents not to teach them at home because the child will become too advanced for the class.
The other problem with this no child left behind philosophy is how success is measured. You have tests, and therefore many teachers instruct toward test standards instead of critical thinking.
And given this structure, are teachers and administrators more focused on achieving the guidelines than they are thinking about outside-the-box ways to educate our youths more effectively, such as having collaborative efforts with the workforce to create real-life learning experiences?
But here comes some of the catches: If you do raise the proverbial educational bar for students to reach, what happens to the youths who cannot make it? And how can you measure success and failure of students and teachers without some sort of structure in place to grade, which at the very least, the current tests provide?
And when funding is so tied to tests, its understandable how outside-the-box thinking can be left outside the box.
Another problem in the education system – parent and teacher relationships.
As parents and teachers vary so much in how they react to any given situation and deal with youths, it’s hard to pinpoint a solution other than this: parents are both the problem and the solution.
There is story after story about parents becoming upset with teachers. One story is a parent yelling at a teacher because the teacher caught the student cheating on a test, while other stories revolve around how teachers grade their subjects.
Respect is sometimes not shown from the parent to the teacher, and one must wonder, if respect isn’t in that relationship, how is a teacher to expect respect from that parent’s child?
If parents are part of the solution, so are teachers.
And then there are stories about concerned parents looking to become more involved with their children’s education, and being told to back off or stay out.
Many times, parents are accused of not doing their part in their children’s lives, but you have stories of parents trying to be involved and being told they’re too involved.
The Catch-22 here is trying to figure out the line of a healthy teacher-parent dynamic, one where respect is shown to both sides for the betterment of the child or teen.
These are just some of the many issues our education system faces, including a lack of per pupil funding (Colorado is one of the lowest funded in the nation). The point is we have problems.
All we’ve got to do is to figure out where to start solving them. And we need to start addressing them and see if we can get out of the Catch-22 mold.