As I trekked along the Midwest States this past weekend driving my son to his next destination of continual learning (grad work) at a Big Ten University (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) I had a lot of time to think about our educational system.
As much as I did not want to admit the cost of education kept creeping up because of the costs of this out state program. It used to be those going into the medical field charged up huge amounts of debt that would hope to be repaid in a lucrative career once graduated. Now it seems every field has its students (my son included) taking out large loans to cover educational expenses. Unfortunately it may take a lifetime for some of these students to pay back their loans.
I’m starting to think of our educational system as a living entity, perhaps a weed. It continues to spread and stranglehold teachers and students at an alarming rate each year. It grows through cracks and crevices in the foundation of our system. Yes, there are times when we stop and apply some very costly weed killer but it is only temporary and the system picks up again and continues to romp across the land as it wishes because no one can stop this obnoxious growth.
Like a weed the same people (government, admin) who claim to protect our educational system and nurture it for a living are no longer valuing our educational system. Changes upon changes with no idea if they will work are applied with spreaders that have no gauge or measure for how much they are choking off the system. Just lay it down and let’s if it works, if the grass burns and turns brown don’t worry we will water the hell out if it and re-sod next year.
There is too much noise (inside & outside) invading our system that makes it is impossible to predict if any good changes will come from new solutions. People doing their best effort only see the system from one point of view and do not take the time to learn all the interdependent parts that must be considered when making changes. Adding a third wheel to a bicycle may imply that the bike will go faster, but will it, if no one knows where to put it and how it will interact with the original design?
Perhaps those trying to do their best are too close to the situation, our educational system can no longer (if it ever did) understand what it is doing to itself. An extreme makeover is required and this can only come from outside the system. I think I see a new “Reality” show in the making. A system in this much trouble can not fix itself, no matter how hard it tries. Do we need more proof and money to make this claim? I think not.
I wish I had all of the answers, for now I will just keep asking the questions. Next week I will have some more time to think as I move my daughter back to school for her Junior year at another Big Ten school (at least it is in state).
I do have one question:
What makes a teacher "Highly Qualified" as apposed to a "Normal" Teacher? For example, NCLB says :
To the extent required by the no child left behind act of 2001, Public Law 107-110, the board of a school district or public school academy shall ensure that all components of the curricular requirements under this section and section 1278a are taught by highly qualified teachers. If a school district or public school academy demonstrates to the department that the school district or public school academy is unable to meet the requirements of this section because
the school district or public school academy is unable to hire enough highly qualified teachers, the department shall work with the school district or public school academy to develop a plan to allow the school district or public school academy to hire enough highly qualified teachers to meet the requirements of this section.
When I check out the Michigan of Education web site on Highly Qualified Teachers it only pertains to Special Education. I suppose one is highly qualified if the person has special educational endorsements, advanced degree and records of measures that display achievements based on criteria set up by the state and NCLB. Perhaps listing the names and credentials of "Highly Qualified Teachers" in each state could serve as a model.
What does the American Federation of Teachers have to say? According to a new report ( http://www.aft.org/presscenter/releases/2006/smarttesting/index.htm) on statewide testing released today by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), most states have made progress in developing clear grade-by-grade standards, but many have not aligned their high-stakes math, reading and science tests with a strong set of content standards, which leads to a distorted picture of how students, schools and teachers are performing.
It seems my post was timely since the U.S. Department of Education came out with a report yesterday (8/16) about 39 states (including Michigan) lacking in highly qualified teachers.
The U.S. DOE site has some interestinf state facts. For example, the state of Michigan's plan is NOT acceptable according to the DOE reviewer. It says:
Comments to support determination:
"This state’s major deficiencies are its equity plan and the lack of a monitoring plan. The information submitted under Requirement 6 does not include specific, data-driven plans for ensuring that all children are taught by highly qualified teachers."
"Monitoring is a critical function in ensuring that LEAs meet the HQT requirements.
The lack of a monitoring plan gives no indication that the SEA knows which districts are in compliance with HQT requirements and which teachers are receiving high quality professional development. Requirement 4 does not provide sufficient information to ensure that LEAs will comply with the requirements of HQT."
Here is the link to check out your state - http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2006/08/08162006a.html
qualityg says/asks ... numbers, monitoring plans, no plans, after the fact reviewers/auditors. Will somebody please let me know HOW I can tell the difference between a highly qualified teacher and just a regular teacher from a NOT Highly Qualified Teacher?
How come Administration Personnel are not identified as "Highly Qualified Admins" Management owns the system and they are the support system and bosses - Right?
If our colleges are not producing "Highly Qualified Teachers" the first time they graduate should they not be held accountable? Does the State and Student get a "refund" from the college or university that fails to educate "Highly Qualified Teachers? Can students bring a law suit against their teachers for not being a Higly Qualified Teacher?
Do we not produce qualified graduates because public colleges spend more money on Research than on Teaching students (Research not Tuition)?
I wonder if the money the government spends on soldiers training makes them all Highly Qualified? They all get patches and badges. See http://qualityg.blogspot.com/2006/08/education-college-tuition-rates-up-up.html
This is such a "butt ugly mess."