Not that I would personally attribute state budgets to solely breaking US schools, but it’s becoming more and more difficult to deny that we’re not facing a huge problem. Mr. Bill Gates, although not necessarily proposing a solution beyond gold standard accounting (*note – he also slips in the need for technology…), does bring to light a very important topic:
Regarding state budgets, here are three key points made by Mr. Gates:
1. Is anyone paying attention?
2. Enron would blush (implying just how egregious the state’s mismanagement of funds has been).
3. It’s the investment in the young that makes us great.
Now one might be tempted to dismiss the notion that our schools are breaking. I challenge those individuals to take a scientific approach and simply consider that fact.
Fact – Programs, such as early intervention services, are being cut.
Fact – The number of teachers is being cut, causing class size to increase.
Fact – Enrollment in education programs is in decline. A smaller pool of future teachers will be entering the profession.
I personally can’t find fault with those who pursue a different profession. There are fewer incentives to enter (and stay in) the field, and a culture has developed where the ills of society are attributed to the shortcomings of teachers, a culture where it’s “normal” to belittle and scorn teachers, a culture where it’s commonplace to spew misinformation and/or choice examples that simply fuel vitriol against teachers.
For instance, in a local paper, a resident recently wrote about “thankless” teachers making 6 figures after 5 years of teaching.
First off, when considering the idea of a six-figure salary, one must keep in mind the cost of living in such an area – a county with the highest cost of living in the state on NJ.
Secondly, I appreciated the time put into the rebuttal by the responding teacher. Some key points from this teacher’s response:
Tenure never meant a lifetime job guarantee and under current law,
To begin with, it’s a shame that a teacher has to spend his time defending his profession and correcting misinformation that so easily circulated throughout the community.
It’s no wonder that fewer teachers are entering or remaining in the field.
Now, my intention here is not to paint a picture of doom and gloom. However, I would like to paint a picture of necessity.
Being optimistic is not looking at problems through rose-colored glasses. More accurately, it’s the belief that we all have in us the ability to be an agent for change. This is my intention.
If we continue in this direction and do nothing about it, then we’re figuratively sitting in our houses with walls burning down around us.
Education is the foundation and future of this nation.
Here’s the good news.
Although some teachers are deciding to leave the profession or not enter it, to begin with, there are still many teachers in the profession who care.
Yes, there may be some bad teachers, just as there are some bad apples in any profession (although I’m not the only one who sees that teachers seem to be held to a different standard).
Here’s what I see:
These are the teachers we need to keep. These are the teachers we need to attract.
It’s difficult to contend that there’s much of a future for this nation without an investment in education.
An investment in education is an investment in the young.
And “it’s the investment in the young that makes us great.”