Education – We’re Failing Our Children

There are reams of reading and stacks of studies purporting to assess various problems of the United States’ educational system. Each problem turns out to be rooted in our individual failure to place an extremely high value on a solid education. Our failure contrasts sharply with societal values of China, India or Japan where admission to universities is a high calling and competition for scarce slots is fierce.This failure to assign a high value to education is all too easily laid at the feet of society rather than each of us. Unfortunately, that approach allows individuals to escape responsibility for doing something to reverse the “… rising tide of mediocrity”, so well documented a whole generation ago by the National Commission on Excellence in Education.1 If we truly cared we would be working, really hard, to reverse that tide.The numerous findings of the Commission as to content, expectations, time and teaching2 are more compelling today than they were then. Little has been done to: extend the school year or extend daily hours in school. Those remain the same. (note 10 infra) A full core of language, math and science for all students is not required and only a third of students study the solid subjects.3 Teacher pay remains low in comparison to other professional opportunities for college graduates.4 Dropouts are 30% or higher.5 The disproportionate influence of the education lobby continues.6The consequences of a failed system are severe. Our kids won’t have good jobs. Their quality of life will decline, sharply. Our culture will lose international influence. Commerce does not wait. CEOs can hire better educated workers offshore to sustain value. Why should the rest of us wait at home?In 2005 the prestigious ACT noted: “… the number of post secondary school graduates will not be sufficient to fill the more than 14 million new jobs that will be added to the labor market by 2008. And, leaving high school without being prepared … will cost our nation over $16 billion each year in remediation, lost productivity, and increased demands on criminal justice and welfare systems.”7In 1984 thirty seven states had minimum competency tests for high school graduation. By 1995 the number was seventeen. The minimums have tended to become maximums, thus lowering standards for all.8 Today rank and file teachers say with some irony that “No Child Left Behind” is coming to mean “All Children Left Behind.”9The organized time that children spend learning in school has remained static at 180 days per year and about 6 hours per day for a generation. By contrast, educators in China, with one fortieth the per capita GDP of the United States, have 8 hour school days in its poorest, worst educated province.10 Talk about valuing education!The Commission also noted that a “… 1981 survey of 45 States revealed shortages of mathematics teachers in 43 States, critical shortages of earth sciences teachers in 33
States, and of physics teachers everywhere. This shortage persists. The percent of college graduates going into the teaching profession has continued to decline.11One specific thing we can do is vote! Votes can emphasize values. Votes get the attention of those who make policy. Even though federal and state education policies tend to dominate, a critical link in our system of education is the independent nature of local school boards. Where voters in local districts can lead, those politics can also help to elect state and federal officials with values that can help.In short, we need to build a better value system for education. Ask prospective School Board members; ask state and federal candidates what they will do, specifically, to raise the priority of, and fund, high quality education for our children. Elect and retain those with pro-education answers, and actions. Don’t vote for those whose talk — and actions — fail to show that education is a topmost priority.As parents, we must tell our children we value education highly — and back those words with deeds. Teachers alone cannot be expected to change the value system of our society. The preeminent value we place on education must be clear in all our social interactions, and in our families. Even through poverty, divorce, and single parenthood, education must be sustained as a most important activity of family life. No electronic toys, or ipods, or play time, until all of the homework is done. No cell phone privileges unless grades are up to snuff. And we all can think of additional ways to drive home the point that hardly anything is more important to our children and their posterity than acquiring a quality education. Learning well is simply essential to their future.12Citations:1 A Nation At Risk: National Commission on Excellence in Education; April 1983
2 ibid: Findings; also following Note 10 re teacher shortages
3 Courses Count: ACT 2005 (American College Testing, formerly)
4 USCA: New Teachers and Old Pay Structures; 2002
5 Manhattan Institute: High School Graduation Rates in the U.S.; 2001
6 American Behavioral Scientist: The Political Context of Higher Education; 2000
7 ACT: Courses Count; Preparing Students for Post Secondary Success; 2005
8 Synthesis Report 20; NCEO 1995
9 Desert Sands Unified School District: Author interviews; 2006-2007
10 The Education Sector; Washington D.C. and IUCN Asia Directorate; 2001 (Ghizou; Lowest urban GDP/worst education)
11 Opportunity in Education
12 Author David L. Smith is retired from a dual career in local government and in business. He has owned a company, served as Chairman and CEO of a ten-university consortium doing technology transfers, and as County Administrator for one of California’s largest counties. He is state certified as a guest teacher, grades K-12, for his local school district.

Preparation Options for Careers in Education

Getting ready for a career in education can require a lot of time and training. There are numerous accredited schools and colleges that allow you to receive the training you need to enter into a successful teaching career. Gaining the skills and knowledge needed to provide an education for others can require years of training based on the career you desire. You can choose to teach at various levels and well as in specific subjects. Preparation options for careers in education are available at the bachelor, master, and doctoral degree levels, allowing you to choose the career preparation that’s right for you.Elementary EducationReceiving the training needed to teach in an elementary setting can be done by enrolling in an accredited school or college. You can choose to obtain a bachelor, master, or doctorate level degree. The length of study will depend on the level of degree being pursued but may consist of four to eight years. Coursework will prepare you to work with elementary level students in child care settings as well as public and private schools. Coursework will include the study of topics like:

Discipline
Music
Physical Education
English
Science
Social Interaction
…and many other related areas of study. With the proper training you can seek employment after graduation. You will have the choice of working with elementary level students providing them with the education they need to prepare for a successful future. Training can be completed through various types of study and will include completing student teaching, which will have you working in a school to gain hands on training.TeachingDegree programs for teaching careers can help you to obtain the skills and knowledge needed to teach others. You can choose to teach at the elementary, middle, high school, and post secondary levels. Training is available to you at the bachelor, master, and doctoral degree levels. You can spend anywhere from four to eight years on training to become a teacher or professor. Specializations in certain subjects can be obtained allowing you to teach the subjects you desire. Coursework will cover psychology training, computers, and teaching methods You can train in child care, math, philosophy of education, and many other courses. By enrolling in an accredited educational training program you will be ready to receive the training you need to work in the field of education. Studies will prepare you for a career as a preschool teacher, elementary teacher, teaching aide, teaching assistant, college professor, and much more. By choosing an accredited school or college you can begin the path to an exciting new career.Accredited educational training programs are available to offer you the education need to enter into the career you dream of. Agencies like the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education ( http://www.ncate.org/ ) are approved to fully accredit education schools and colleges that offer the best quality educational training available. You can prepare for an exciting teaching career by researching programs and finding the one that fits your goals and needs, and enrolling today.DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised at PETAP.org.Copyright 2010 – All rights reserved by PETAP.org.