Tuesday, June 3, 2014

PBear Goes to School

For the last year and a half I have been going to school, but not like you might think. In May of 2012 a colleague of mine at Middle TN State University, asked if I would join a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant project on which he was working. This grant, called Master Teacher Fellowships, was designed to support exceptional high school science and math teachers who teach in under served rural schools. The five year project was designed to give them additional skills to help them to become mentors and raise the competency of other teachers in their schools.

Part of the original grant proposed industry participation in the project for two reasons. The first was to explore how industry could become more involved in supporting education. The second was to provide an opportunity for an 'outsider' to observe teachers in the classroom and share these observations in a report. In other words I was sent back to school. Like many of us, I assumed that school was about like it it was when I was there. Let me be the first to tell you things have changed dramatically since I graduated from high school in 1965. But I would go on and say that if you have children in K-12 right now, things are much different than you remember them.

Most people seem to agree that education in our country is in disarray as reflected by the fact that only 37% would rank U.S. Public schools as good or excellent. At the same time, 77% would rank the school where their child attends as good or excellent. Clearly there is a huge disconnect. The truth is that by most objective measures our education system is in need of reform and the school your child attends may well have systemic issues of which you are unaware.

Many people blame the problems with the education system on the teachers unions, “non-caring, unqualified teachers”, and a tenure system that is believed to protect under performing teachers. This view has permeated the “group think” of a great number of Americans who now demand “accountability” for our teachers. This focus on teacher accountability has resulted in ignoring many other substantive problems that contribute to the overall problems within our education system.

The reality is that numerous research studies confirm that the number one strategy for improving school performance is parental and community involvement. This is true regardless of whether the school is affluent or poor, rural or urban, multicultural, etc. The first step in getting involved is to become aware of what is really happening in your school district. An ever burgeoning cadre of bureaucrats are running our schools and they need to be accountable to parents and the community. Your participation can help make that happen.

No comments:

Post a Comment