Education in America

As both a  parent and a advocate for children I am always concerned about the direction of our public education.  President Obama today in speaking to Teachers Unions rebuffed the Democratic party and touted among other things merit pay for successful teachers.  He also talked about removing teachers who are ineffective as well along with investing more in early childhood education. 

Obama said,

“Too many supporters of my party have resisted the idea of rewarding excellence in teaching with extra pay, even though we know it can make a difference in the classroom. Too many in the Republican Party have opposed new investments in early education, despite compelling evidence of its importance.”

Obama also called for more charter schools and longer school hours.

I have some mixed feelings on all of these.  I am definitely for rewarding excellent teachers, I just don’t know how one will be able to measure that.  While good and bad teachers are often easy to spot, too often office politics, personalities and union mandates can prevent the better teachers from being rewarded.  I have seen successes in some charter schools.  My daughter attended one for 6 years before moving and having to go public again.  Her particular charter experience was wonderful.  She is further ahead than her current classmates.  At the same time, some charter schools are merely money making projects and I live in a town where the mayor is trying his very best to place all public education in private charter school creating hands.  He wants his political friends to get that steady stream of government education money. 

See that’s the thing.  If we look at this thing honestly, we’ll find that every education opportunity will not be the same for every child.  As much as I would like it to be, it’s just not a realistic thing to expect in a capitalist society.  If one can afford to pay for a high performing private school where that type of money invested more often than not assures the parental involvment and community support necessary to advance in the marketplace, more power to you!  Still we should value public education which means being innovative and trying new things.  Getting rid of bad teachers is an excellent idea.  School competition is a good thing as well.  Which is why the ideas of charter schools don’t particularly offend me.  The problem comes with excess of political pandering and bull$%#@ ways of doing things.  Ideas are great but the devil is always in the details.  I have been to enough school board meetings to see for myself.

I look at it like a double edge sword.  Back in the day big businesses used labor to generate profit but were reluctant to offer labor it’s fair share.  There is no question that there was a strong need for unions to bargain for workers.  Similarly, many unions have abuse bargaining ideas giving way to overpaid labor who don’t feel the urgency to put in a good days work since they have a level of protection.  For decades they have been steeped in their own level of corruption.  What are you going to do?  The powers that be on both sides are often inherently corrupt.  This is what we are dealing with when it comes to education in many ways.  And both sides are still fighting for majority and in some cases total control.

Because people take sides based on their affiliations, we usually get an either or approach instead of combining good ideas  to try to gain a viable solution.  And again if integrity is not at the center of the ideas and most of all injected into implementation of ideas, then far too many of our elementary and secondary educational facilities will remain inept.

What do you think?