I have written several articles on Education. A list of links have been provided at bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address different aspects on education.
After watching several interviews involving teachers, it is quite apparent that most of the teachers don’t want to go back to work. They seem to be quite content just collecting their unemployment pay plus the incentive pay. They argue that we need to follow the science, but when presented with facts they don’t want to listen. All the countries in Europe have opened up their schools. The fact is that not one teacher has been infected by a student. The second fact is that children just seem to not get infected with covid. Third fact, they can wear masks to protect themselves. Hospitals have never closed. Nurses take care of covid patients all the time. Fourth fact, if the teacher is at a higher risk, they don’t have to come back to the schools. Fifth fact, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We have all of Europe for models of how to successfully open up the schools. We are just making this way too complicated. Sixth fact, Education has become a political tool of the left. As long as schools are closed, many parents can’t go back to work. This will keep the unemployment rate higher, thereby hurting President Trump’s chances at getting re-elected.
How Progressives Have Ruined School Culture And Created A Mass Teacher Exodus
Five Ideas For Fixing American Education
School culture is the life force of a school campus. It is one of the most underrated elements of a strong and successful school. Here’s what happened to school culture in the last few years and what we can do about it.
The students call it a “vibe.” Adults might use the word “ambiance.”
Schools have an “ambiance” and a “vibe” just as much as any other workplace. Is the campus clean or littered with trash? Are the students smiling or looking down at their devices all the time? Do teachers exude crankiness, or is there a pulse of positivity? Do people seem to feel essential or incidental to the school community?
In the best schools, there is a palpable electricity that can be detected by visitors. There is an energy, a benign sense that this is a place where extraordinary things can happen — it can be felt in the classroom, on the stage, or on the playing field. When I was in high school, everyone went to Friday night football games. Our academic and artistic teams were all competitive, or at least aspired to be. Rallies were eagerly attended, and class competitions bristled with urgency.
This didn’t happen by accident.
A school’s culture is a consequence of a number of variables, but almost all of them are anchored in fostering positive and meaningful relationships between the school’s staff and the students and their parents. It is the consequence of a vision that has been discussed from its inception all the way down to the finer points of its execution. It is making sure students and staff stay committed to praising what is praiseworthy and are crystal clear about those pesky old-school things called “expectations.”
The list of academic harms associated with COVID is too long to fully enumerate. But talk to American teachers and they will tell you one of the most obvious casualties of the past two and a half years was a transformation of school culture defined by potent levels of student disengagement. Events became poorly attended. Participation in after-school activities like sports and clubs atrophied. School dances and other events, even when they weren’t suddenly canceled or severely modified, felt flat and hollow. And who could possibly blame the students? COVID policies made a virtue of both disengagement and distance — some might say it was safetyism in excelsis.
More than likely, students simply got out of the habit of active school life — its rhythms, its expectations, and, yes, its occasional uncomfortable demands. Tell young people they can stay in bed all day, scroll on their phones during class, turn in work whenever they please, and take nothing but open-note tests and guess what will happen — they won’t want it to ever end. A system modeled on the world of Peter Pan might be great in the moment, but in the end, it results in a colossal degradation in school culture and the death of school spirit.
But to understand the gale of teacher departures, the 148% increase in resignations in the education sector, and the rock-bottom morale of American teachers, it is important to go beyond the annoyances and disruptions of these COVID years. For almost a decade, American schools have pivoted away from “zero tolerance” policies and embraced an alternative to suspension known as “restorative justice.” According to a Brown Center Report on American Education, restorative justice typically features a “meeting of victims, perpetrators, parents, teachers, administrators, and a counselor or psychologist. The goal is to get misbehaving students to take responsibility for their behaviors and the consequences that others have suffered.”
In short, have students take responsibility for poor behavior without suspending them.
To be clear, the rationale for this change of policy is well-intentioned. According to research in Education Next, excess suspensions are correlated to future rates of incarceration. Suspensions are disproportionately doled out to students of color, even when free and reduced meals are held as a constant variable. More suspension means alienation from a student’s learning community, resulting in lower performance. As much as progressivism is often associated with doe-eyed utopianism, this particular policy initiative is not.
But here is the problem: There is scant evidence that this new approach is improving school culture or academic performance. Of course, suspensions have decreased; but if the policy is a prima facie rejection of suspension as a legitimate first option, then that really isn’t saying anything. Having a policy that doesn’t suspend students and then celebrating when students aren’t suspended is about as silly as refusing to enforce the law and then celebrating when there are fewer arrests. As for academic performance, one study that focused on the use of restorative justice practices in the Pittsburgh Public Schools district found that “academic outcomes did not improve … and actually worsened for grades 6–8,” with certain subject areas and student groups more affected than others.
What about the students who are behaving and trying their best to get a decent education? Brookings Institute reported that “misbehaving students take a toll on the education of others. A 2014 report from Ofsted, the United Kingdom inspectorate of schools, estimated that each year, British teachers lose the equivalent of 38 days of instruction dealing with even low-level misbehavior.”
And what about the teachers? Asking educators to act as quasi-counselors and therapists — roles for which they are not trained and will not be trained for in just a few professional development sessions — is just the tip of the iceberg for why such policies are problematic. Furthermore, teachers are often asked to stop class for a disruptive student in order to implement these restorative justice practices. According to findings from a survey of teachers — and this should come as no shock — “sparing 20-plus minutes for circles to build community or respond to conflict in the classroom seemed an insurmountable challenge to some.”
Outsiders to the world of education — and even “reformers” who believe there is a magical and elusive policy elixir — are mistaken if they believe asking teachers to take on the brunt of civil society’s failures won’t have a pernicious effect on both their morale and the culture of a school. But here is the real issue at hand: We can agree to decriminalize, destigmatize, and uncouple poor behavior from serious consequences as much as we please, but if we refuse to talk bluntly about the need for better character, morality, and respect from our young people, then none of it will matter.
And our schools will be the worse for it.
We Must Make Teaching An Attractive Profession Again
We Must Make Teaching An Attractive Profession Again
Americans don’t want their own children to become school teachers. This is a sudden and troubling development and is one of the most important issues we must address if we are going to fix our schools and educate our children.
Last week, a disturbing poll about the state of the teaching profession was released.
One of the questions asked in the PDK “Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools” was, “Would you like a child of yours to become a public school teacher in your community?”
Only 37% answered yes.
To give this number some historical context, consider that when the same question was asked in 2018, 46% answered in the affirmative. In 1969, 75% positively responded.
So, what’s going on here? And what does it say about the current state of American education?
To discover what’s at work, it is important to note that in the exact same poll Americans’ rating of their community public schools reached an all-time high in the 48-year history of the poll. A whopping 54% would give their community schools a grade of an “A” or a “B.” This fascinating duality of a public that gives high marks to a profession they wouldn’t want their own children to enter presents a crystal-clear reality: the job has become both unpleasant and unappealing.
Only 29% of the respondents cited poor pay as a reason for wanting their progeny to avoid the profession. Instead, they cited “the difficulties, demands, and stress of the job,” “a lack of respect or being valued,” and “a variety of other shortcomings.”
In Ohio last week, teachers went on strike, not in the oddball ideological tradition of the Chicago Teachers Union, but because they simply wanted air-conditioning and better working conditions. When I travel and speak to teachers across the country, their complaints are about aberrant student behavior, poor working conditions, and disrespect from the public more often than paltry pensions or subpar pay.
Jake Miller, an award-winning teacher who quit the teaching profession last year, powerfully explained in an op-ed:
Maybe it was the in-service where my colleagues and I wanted time to catch up on emails, grading, parent phone calls, and other things lost in the substitute shortage shuffle. Instead, we were finger painting.
Maybe it was the day prior when I found 3 inches of urine flooding out of the boys’ bathroom.
Or the day when a student hurt themselves and, after reporting the situation, they didn’t get the help they needed and returned to class the next day.
Mr. Miller isn’t being dramatic or engaging in rhetorical bravado. He is telling the truth and we conservatives would be wise to listen.
Students are overdosing in bathrooms. Violence toward teachers has increased in recent years. The pernicious obsession with cell phones has robbed students of anything resembling a healthy attention span. Fellow citizens — and yes, I am sadly thinking of a great many of us conservatives — mistakenly equate all teachers with teachers unions and the broken-souled educators on Libs of TikTok.
We can scream about CRT and the 1619 Project (I have), but really, at the end of the day, I just want my students to be able to make eye contact, learn how to take lecture notes, understand why they can’t listen to music through earbuds when class is going on, and maybe gain a revitalized eagerness to learn in so doing.
Far too many of our students — especially the most at-risk — don’t sleep well. They don’t eat well. They don’t exercise. They don’t socialize. They are utterly stressed out and plagued with “anxiety.” They do not have adult exemplars in their lives. They live their lives untethered to the nourishing power of high expectations and real accountability. Violence and drug use surround them. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how good a pitcher is if the rest of the team is off the field.
Of course, in an ideal world, schools would be palaces (with air conditioning). The most educated and talented people in America would enter the classroom because a democracy cannot survive if its citizens are not educated and imbued with the skills of reading, writing, and critical thought. Vacant teaching positions would garner multiple applications. Parents and teachers would work together instead of seeing each other as potential adversaries.
This is why Americans don’t want their children to teach. Not because it isn’t noble. Not because it isn’t important. Not because we want our children to take a vow of poverty. No, it’s because the long-term habit of our policymakers is to view schools as meccas of social intervention and as hubs of public policy triage for a broken society. And to a certain extent, that makes sense. All of the social pathologies and community dysfunction present themselves on a daily basis on the frontlines of the American school system.
Teachers don’t need a million-dollar salary. They need to know that when they send out a disruptive student, that student won’t be back in class 20 minutes later. They want air-conditioning. They want a computer that isn’t over 10 years old. They want to be able to abolish cell phones in their classrooms without mom and dad breathing down their necks.
This isn’t rocket science. It’s common sense. Sadly, common sense isn’t so common these days.
dailywire.com, “How Progressives Have Ruined School Culture And Created A Mass Teacher Exodus: Five Ideas For Fixing American Education.” By Jeremy Adams; dailywire.com, “We Must Make Teaching An Attractive Profession Again.” By Jeremy Adams;