5 page Assessment of our educational system

Educational System

Assessment of our educational system

Our educational system was created to enable equal educational opportunities for all people. However, even a superficial analysis of the system reveals that our schools are rather inequitable in funding, opportunity, and quality. The education of the next generation is the responsibility of the last, and rather than as a single-handed effort, the entire community needs to take an active role. From the teacher in the classroom, to the parent at home, to local school boards, to state and federal governments, change for the better needs to be addressed to ensure the quality of our nation’s future.

Teachers’ role in improvement

Teachers play an essential role in our educational system. They are there to lead, guide, share, and nuture the intellectual, emotional, and whole student through their adolescent academic journey. Teachers contribute many strengths to the system including their knowledge, vitality, energy, care, and passion for the betterment of the children. Most people can remember a teacher who has made a positive difference in his or her own life, and that goal is one that drives many teachers. Teachers bring security to their own field through teacher-led and governed unions. However, the strengths of the system which are brought into the schools are just not often returned in kind.

As employees in the public sector, teachers are in the not-for-profit business. Naturally, within an organization that does not function for a profit, salaries are less than that of organizations which function for monetary gain. One of the most often heard complaints from educators is the low salary. The amount of work that is required to teach using methods known as best practices monstrously overshadows the amount of time actually spent with the students. This lack of pay for preparation leads to teachers putting less effort and time into preparing their lessons which lead to a decline in the quality of education that is given to the students. The question is how to increase the pay of public school teachers to their contentment with the support of the taxpayers who supply the funding. This tends to be a great issue especially in areas with aging populations who do not directly benefit from the school system in the area.

In order to retain excellent teachers as well as satisfy the taxpayers, there needs to be a community consensus on the issue of teacher pay. In order to get anything done, the local as well state representatives need to become more actively involved in local educational politics. The politics exist, regardless of opinion, and the politicians need to take charge. Teachers are highly educated professionals, with increasing numbers holding Masters Degrees and even PhDs; however, they only earn a fraction of the salary of other fields with the same amount of education. Whereas a teacher who truly teaches for a love of the work and not money is the ultimate desire for all districts and schools, these dedicated teachers also need to make a living just as those who choose their lucrative paying career for the money. It is also as if the state government punishes someone for choosing education as a life career rather than the advancement of corporate America.

Parents’ role in improvement

The role of the parent is to assist their children through their educational journey; however, one of the major issues in education today is those very parents. Parents tend to be often on one side of the spectrum or another. Either they are way too involved in their students’ lives to the point of suppressing their individuality or they are completely uninvolved in their lives. Parents who are too involved in their students’ lives often choose a path for their child to take, regardless of the individual interests of the child. These parents believe they do well for their children, but they often create rebellious children and unsuccessful ones. The very same parents wonder why their children are not successful, not ever seeing the true identity of their own child. On the other hand, there are some parents who do not take an active role in the lives of their children. These children often end up dropping out, thinking that no one cares for them or what they do. Often, there is also a lack of value in education in such situations which makes it difficult for the students to value what they do.

In order to improve the situation with parents in our public education system, parents need to become more accountable for the actions of their children. Parents lay out the boundaries by which a child creates his or her own life, and if a parent is teaching a student negative behaviors, that parent should be held responsible. There should be required parent meetings through the schools for all parents, not just those who choose to come, but rather every parent. The involvement of the parent needs to be worked into a graduation requirement for all schools to communicate the importance they bring to their child’s education. Many parents may yearn to help their adolescents through the academic, social, and emotional pressures that they face each day. As with most things, knowledge about the topic will bring about change through ideas, actions, and simple understanding about what their child goes through each and every day. This will in turn allow the parent to better understand their importance in their child’s academic success.

Local school boards’ role in improvement

In a true attempt to address their needs, realities, and desires, local school boards are created for the citizens and businesses of the community to ensure that the students exiting the school system are ready to contribute to and become a productive member of society. These school boards consist of local business owners, members of public services, citizens, church officials, among other key community figures. Although the community is represented, the school itself is often lacking in representation. While the agenda of the school board is to serve the community, there are many items that are not considered such as standardized testing and other realities which occur within the school itself that make some agenda items difficult or even impossible to achieve.

The schools need to be directly represented within the school board and have a voice strong enough to matter. The school board itself has such a great deal of power over the major policies of the district that there needs to be more direct representation. Sometimes ideas that pass within a school board are not feasible within the real school environment for some reasons simply such as time or money. Hence, some school boards set the schools up for failure. The National School Boards Association needs to step in and consider more internal aspects of an already multi-dimensional school such as including students and even greater representations of teachers, support staff, and administration. A yearly review conducted by the National School Boards Association should be done of all school boards, their compositions, and their achievements.

State governments’ role in improvement

State governments need to do more than just govern over the schools and teachers of a state. Since the employees of a school district are bound by the state’s handout of tax dollars, they are bound by whatever the state allots. In addition to salary pay, teachers and other school employees rely upon the state to look over a pension for retirement. In the state of Illlinois, teachers contribute 9% of their salary into the Teachers Retirement System of Illinois. After 30 years of service, teachers are fully invested and can retire with 75% of their last year’s salary. Historically, it was also an option to obtain financial reimbursement for any leftover sick days on a per day rate. However, the state is trying to eradicate this option for teachers. Within the state, there is a great push for reconsideration of this legislation. Teachers are urged to contact local and state government representatives to plead with them to keep this option. Many teachers do not take sick days as a result of this option in order to save them for retirement. The decision should be up to the individual to decide.

If the state were more dedicated to its hard working teachers, the teachers may be more willing to put in more of the extra work constantly thrown at them. However, when the state attempts to take away money that has already been earned by the individual, this is robbery. The state of Illinois needs to open its eyes to the contribution that its teachers brings to the state’s success as well as open its ears to those pleading for justice. Individual teacher unions, such as the Lake County Federation of Teachers, needs to continue to push for reconsideration of eradicating the Early Retirement Option (ERO).

Federal government’s role in improvement

The federal government has the largest role in the improvement of our nation’s educational system. However, it tends to be more of the cause of our nation’s problems rather than the solution. First of all, in 2004, only 9% of the federal budget as a whole went to educating our own; a whopping 42% of our tax dollars went to support the war effort. How does the administration expect to improve the success of our educational system when it is not even a mere concern monetarily? (www.fcnl.org,2005). Success within a crumbling system requires money.

In addition to the lack of funding for our nation’s next generation, the introduction of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) during President Bush’s first term in office is wasting the little 9% of tax dollars that are allocated to education. The administration of the many new exams that are required for schools to take to receive funding take a great deal of money to administer in exam materials, preparation, disbursement, assessment, and reporting of the scores. That does not even take into account the amount of time wasted within the classroom where teachers are merely “teaching to the test.” Also, recent research shows that there is naturally only a small percentage of children who are able to succeed in these exams. These exams are set up for children who think with a purely academic sense, not taking into account the many other talents and abilities which a student may possess. Even some of the best schools in the nation are on the failing list, according to the government.

President Bush and his administration need to reconsider and reevaluate their priorities. By only concentrating on potential threats and other nations’ problems, the United States of America and its citizens can only stand by and watch the deterioration of the educational system. More money needs to go to the nation’s schools in order to be able to compete in an ever-growing globally more intelligent world than our own.

Final Recommendations solution to our nation’s failing educational system lies simply in money. Without more money allocated to education, teachers will be unwilling to put in the time and effort required to do the best they possibly can. Students will (and already do) feel that they are uncared for. They can see that their buildings are falling apart and that their books are 10 years out-of-date. By giving more money to schools to improve such things, students will feel more cared for and then more inclined to succeed. Educational politicians need to fight harder for their cause, or else the nation as a whole will continue to suffer.

Sources Used

1. Friends Committee on National Legislation. April 2005. Retrieved from the World Wide Web on April 27, 2005, at http://www.fcnl.org/pdfs/taxday_05.pdf.

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