Sep 27, 2010

President Obama set a goal today of recruiting 10,000 teachers in science, technology, engineering and math, calling these subjects essential to competing in the 21st-century global economy.

"When I came into office, I set a goal of moving our nation from the middle to the top of the pack in math and science education," said Obama, who discussed his plan this morning on NBC's Today show.

Obama expressed support for a longer school year in the interview tied to a series of NBC News programs about education. He said improvements will require more than money.

The president called education one of the country's most important economic issues as it competes with China, India and other growing nations that outperform the USA in the classroom.

"They have caught up and now in some cases have surpassed us," Obama said.

Obama said people should insist on better standards and better teachers. He said more education funding is needed but that is far from the only solution. "Money without reform will not fix the problems," he said.

The president called for longer school years, saying U.S. competitors keep their children in schools for an average of a month longer. "That month makes a difference," Obama said, though "that's going to cost some money. ... That would be money well spent."

Obama defended his administration's "Race to the Top" program, saying it forces states and school districts to improve their standards. He said math and science instruction should be priorities and urged parents to stay involved in their children's education.

The president said little about the criticism of teachers' unions but did agree with interviewer Matt Lauer's assertion that there are some very good teachers out there and some very mediocre ones.

"Sort of like politicians and journalists," Obama said.

I'm really glad the focus is slowing beginning to turn to education in this country, but I find it kind of curious the manner in which we are focusing that attention.  With the new documentary, Waiting for Superman, it would appear that all the blame for our lackadaisical educational system can be laid at the feet of teachers and teachers' unions.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm pretty sure there are some mediorce teachers just like any other profession, but let's be real.  It's very easy to blame teachers because we can fired them, but yet we cannot fire parents who should share in the blame.  Oh and please don't get me started on the politicians who implement policies that make it virtually impossible for a teacher to efficiently do their job.  They are just as culpable in this situation as anyone.  Trust me, there is plenty of blame to go around for everyone to partake in.
Instead of blaming people maybe we should start putting forth solutions.  How about classroom sizes?  That should be an easy one to tackle and if there are more than 20 students in a class how about placing a paraprofessional in the class to assist the teacher.  These teachers spend so much time policing these classes they don't have time to teach.  How about when teachers ask for help we actually give them that help?  How about we listen to the teachers for a change?
If you want to make the standards more stringent for teachers how about you pay them more money.  No one goes into teaching to get rich.  The vast majority of teachers go into classrooms to make a difference.  Trust me, they don't get paid nearly what they are worth especially having to deal with what they have to deal with.
Parents need to be involved in the educating of their children.  In the words of my little sister, 'Parents should be their kids first teachers.'  The education of your child shouldn't just take place at school.  You have to play an active role.  If you are a parent that can't read, how about you put your pride aside and learn to read with your child.  In order to be better we have to do better.  We have to be parent-activists.  Your children deserve better.
Demand more from your elected officials.  If they are not getting the job done, boot their behinds out of office.  They work for you and they need to be reminded of that.  They are willing to spend more money on building prisons, but are unwilling to build more efficient schools that have a 21st century curriculum.

1 comment:

  1. There is definitely enough blame to go around as for the decline of our schools. Growing up in the inner city though, I was quite surprised at how strong my school system was and that I was really able to compete in college. But I can't say that the same system is doing that well. I can't pinpoint exactly what went wrong.

    I think it's great that there is a national conversation about education. I'm not sure if I will see the documentary, but it is saddening that parents are clinging to the hope of their children being selected by a lottery system to get into a good school. That really should not be.

    I hope that we can change things around. I know we can but everyone has to do what's in the best interest of our kids and sadly everybody does not have the same priorities.