The MisEducation of American Youth

As an educator in the American public school system, I want to see the silver lining, the light at the end of the tunnel, the rise of the best and the brightest. But on the other hand, as a parent, I have the right to rant and rave about the ills of public education and say that I am disappointed, discouraged, dissatisfied and oftentimes downright disgusted with the educational system. So how can I expose all that I feel the system is not without betraying the very profession that gainfully employs me.

I never planned to go into the teaching profession. Although I started in the education program at my university, I soon realized that becoming a certified teacher in the state of Alabama was not a good idea…at least not for me! With careful research, I learned that I could concentrate on a particular subject and pursue alternative certification in practically every corner of the globe. My thoughts were that the education degree would limit and restrict my long term goals. Education degrees train you for one thing. I wanted to have options, options and more options. Thankfully, I have a rich and diverse employment history which I strongly believed laid the foundation for me to enter secondary education. I truly  enjoyed being a classroom teacher. The fulfillment that one receives from shaping and molding young minds is incomparable. The knowledge that you have the power and ability to groom doctors, lawyers, engineers and entrepreneurs is invaluable. So then, what is the Miseducation of American Youth From the Kat’s Eye?

Lack of boundaries- Children want discipline. They will respect boundaries once they realize that it is the standing expectation of the person in authority. Often times in the culture of education, emphasis is placed on building rapport with the students. Then as a result, some teachers cross the line from being friendly to becoming friends with their students. By no means do I believe a teacher should be personal friends with a student on FaceBook, Twitter, InstaGram or whatever the lastest fad of technology driven communication happens to be. Teachers at all times must maintain their professionalism when interacting with students. Using social media as a means of communication is a recipe for disaster and at the end of the day an invasion of the teacher’s privacy and a deduction of their superiority. In some cases, it may even prove to be an ethical violation. An even more obvious violation of the code of ethics are the recurring nationwide reports of sexual relationships that teachers are having with students. What a breach of trust and abuse of authority and clearly a lack of boundaries recognized and established by the teacher. This type of behavior tarnishes the pristine perception of a teacher’s role and may be the reason for the tainted pool of applicants who increasingly don the title of educator.

Lack of accountability– Tough times call for tough measures. Since elementary school, I have told my son that he goes to school for the three “L’s.” Listen, Learn and Lunch…anything else would be inappropriate and cause for discipline. My expectations are clear and concise and he is held accountable for any action that is outside the L’s. There was and remains, no cause for confusion.  The approach to teacher duties should be as simplified. Teachers go to school for the three ”E’s.” Educate, Enlighten, Empower…anything else would be inappropriate and cause for discipline. Tenure however, throws a monkey wrench in the efforts to quickly dismiss, remove and overhaul a system of ineffective teachers who go above and beyond in doing absolutely nothing. In their defense, they may have once been highly motivated and dynamic instructors; but then something changed. A responsible professional realizes their shift in passion and purpose and moves on. Students who are in the presence of teachers who have lost their zeal are doing them a disservice.  While teacher pay for performance plans have many “panties in a wad,” the concept behind the plan is rather simple once you shuffle through the rigmarole. Good actors and actresses are paid to perform. The more entertaining, endearing and effective their performances, the more money Hollywood pays them and the more fans adore them. They go to great lengths to perfect their crafts, to embody the persona of the characters they portray and to engage their audiences. They are often meticulous folk, highly critical of themselves and dedicated to their profession to a fault.  If I pay money to see bad acting in a bad movie, I am disappointed and a have lost a few dollars and a couple of hours. But when you have a bad teacher in a bad situation the loss is far greater. Tough times call for tough measures.

Lack of rigor in academics: Many states are now adopting Common Core Standards (CCS). The idea is to streamline the expectations of education across the country that will place all students on the same playing field. As a result, the students will be more equipped to compete in a global economy. The primary focus of CCS is college and career readiness. Recent studies prove that students graduating from high school are prepared for neither. This is disheartening news to a parent who sends their child to school every day only to learn that he or she will have to take remedial classes in college because they did not receive the proper rigorous instruction in high school to prepare them for post-secondary education. It’s frustrating to me when I set forth to help my son with an honors class assignment and he tells me that his teacher doesn’t expect “all of that.”  In a 2006 study called “The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts,” 47% of students reported that the classes were uninteresting and 69% stated that due to low teacher expectations and academic standards they were unmotivated and/or unwilling to perform on a higher level.  This information is alarming but very telling of the miseducation of American youth. In actuality it is not the students who are failing but the educational system that they are thrust into that is.

As educators, parents and concerned citizens, we must demand of ourselves, the children we love, legislators, reformists and school districts, an environment that is committed to excellence, high achievement and performance; an environment that builds capacity for rigorous learning, establishes boundaries and holds all involved accountable for educating, enlightening and empowering this generation to enter the 21st Century workplace.

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2 thoughts on “The MisEducation of American Youth

  1. You know its rather unfortunate that the students suffer a great deal as a result of insufficient access to resources needed to ensure a quality education. As a teaching assistant I witness the stratification & uneven distributions of programs, curriculums & wide range of technology. What many people don’t realize is that it takes more than a school to shape successful members in society for the future. The parents have to participate actively in their child’s education and stand firm next to expections as well as advantages of having access to knowledge through education. I must say the three L’s is a clever yet realistic view of what education means to a young lad.

    In terms of the education system as a whole it’s going to take systematic & extensive research to reform the nation’s idea of what a good educational system consists of. There are so many side doors to gain access to become a teacher that u must question whether or not these potential teachers have the ability and knowledge to foster a child’s chances of master high achievement. Most teachers have not been trained well enough to perform that duty yet the schools higher them and pay them cheesy salaries to maintain so many different responsibilities. Although I teach in all honesty education isn’t the field I’d prefer either unless I worked for the school board because in that case I would have more power over effective changes that need to be made.

    Children who come from low income socioeconomic backgrounds seem to suffer the most because their parents can’t afford to pay for high quality strong disciplinary institutions, parents don’t take time to find free or low cost programs that offer atleast some rigorous instruction, the public schools don’t even offer access to outstanding performing programs because they don’t invest enough money into it unless the student maintains high achievement.

    These children coming up need to be trained to survive in a fast pace rapidly changing society that will ultimately be knowledge based. Some of the best organizations will be willing to pay top dollar to citizens who can possess the ability to analyze and master problem solving skills. They need to be taught how to invent new technology not how to choose one answer out of four choices on a multiple choice test. That isn’t effective education. They should be the next inventors being trained to think abstractly because all the inventors from the past are dead or really old so whose going to be prepared to lead the next generation? The US is lagging behind the most in comparison to other countries in terms of education. The kids in china go to school 6 days a week, Indians learn to master basic science, math, physics, social sciences at an early age. These foreign citizens get educated in their country come here and take jobs that we should have. In some ways it’s designed to keep people down. Testing is not the only way to measure achievement and academic success. The way they place so much emphasis on high stakes testing it not necessary there is much more to be done.

    Children from low socioeconomic backgrounds quickly lag behind middle class students from as early as kindergarten because when summer time comes they looose out on access to continuous exposure to reading & other educational instruction. By the time they get back to school in september the middle class student has already increased their learning ability by participating in educational advantage programs that build integrity and motivation. During the school year they stratify students based on performance and economic advantages. How can a nation get ahead when they are not honest with their citizens? When they don’t ensure that all citizens have equal access to a variety of educational opportunities that lead to an upward important position in society. Soon people wont be paid to clean the environment there will be machines for that and a lot of people will be jobless because they don’t have the education to work for decent money and working conditions. The education system directly correlates with the result of people’s successful outcomes. The ineffectiveness of this matter may take more than a decade to be corrected but as we look on from the position of being educators we can only begin to move toward reform from such a small stand point that must spread to a whole nation.

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