• Laurel A. Rockefeller

We Need to Free Teachers: How Micro-managing Teachers is Undermining American Education

Originally posted June 26th, 2012

Recently a 16 year old friend complained about spell check trying to insert an apostrophe in one of her contractions on facebook. Whenever I speak to her in facebook chat, I find her words are so filled with mis-spellings and incorrect grammar that I cannot understand her. When I try to speak to her about this, she ignores me (typical of a 16 year-old!).

Dismayed, I spoke to several public school teachers and university professors I know through both my education and facebook games. I asked them about what is happening in the classroom. Their answers revealed just how much has changed in public education over the last 20 years.

During my education in the 1980s and 1990s, teachers were trusted as the professionals they are, allowed to adjust their lessons to each class they were teaching, accelerating or slowing down the pace, providing enrichment activities that made learning fun, and above all else, free to do whatever they felt would be effective in empowering their students to think critically and apply lessons to the real world. Standardized tests were issued from time to time, but never focused upon. Instead, my teachers focused on making sure every student grasped every subject competently.

Things have changed. Since my high school graduation in 1990, governments on all levels have decided to supervise and micro-manage to levels unheard of in previous decades. Today’s professional educators no longer possess the freedom to adjust their lessons to specific classroom situations and specific student needs in order to maximize student learning. Instead THE TEST has taken over class room time to a degree I find barely plausible. Now, instead of engaging and challenging students, both teachers and students are frustrated and bored. More importantly, students are advancing to the next grade with few critical thinking or researching skills, no ability to apply the classroom to the rest of their lives, and little permanent knowledge.

This trend is so severe that university professors now have to dummy down their curricula. If this seems unimportant, then consider that our most sensitive professions require graduate degrees. Do you really want the doctor operating on you to graduate with less knowledge and competence than a physician educated in the 1980s? Do you want your lawyer to not know the law expertly?

All professions build upon the foundation our public school teachers provide across a person’s early life. We cannot afford for university professors to dummy down anything; doing so puts every aspect of our lives in danger.

It is time to reverse course in education and return the classroom to our dedicated education professionals. It is time trust our teachers to know their jobs. It is time to get government, even local government, out of the classroom and restore control to those best able to handle the responsibility of educating our youth: our classroom teachers. When we remove teacher control from their classes, we undermine our entire society. Let’s stop politicizing education and let teachers teach. Not the politically correct version of their subjects, but each subject taught to prepare each student for the high standards expected of them in university. We all deserve nothing less.

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