What is it that’s making our nation suffer from excelling in education? Not many would argue about the importance of excellence in education. Problems such as teacher attrition, lack of parent involvement, and teaching high-stakes testing may hinder progress in education. An education is an indispensable and essential tool, unfortunately, with all the jaded judgments; our students aren’t valuing or able to value their education.
An Education can open the doors to opportunities that would have never been possible if it had not been for the knowledge and preparation that one received while in school. With the fluctuating economy and hesitant times, it is more important than ever for our nation’s children to receive the proper education and training that will allow them to acquire a good job and produce the revenue needed to live. Unfortunately, there are many problems facing our education system today, and several of them are having negative effects on the quality of the education our students are receiving.
Would one feel comfortable fifty years from now, when the children who are victim of the disadvantages of teacher attrition, lack of parent involvement and a majority of their education being how to take a high stakes test, are running this nation? How soundly can one sleep knowing that their decisions on a bill deciphering how much of a pension someone will receive or what’s legal and what’s not is at stake? Should these problems be quietly swept under the rug and addressed again in another five years, or is it best bite the financial bullet and at the very least, acknowledge there is an issue?
A serious problem that is attacking the education system in America is the alarming attrition rate of teachers. Only those not involved with education at all will argue that it is an undemanding profession; in actuality, it is a very demanding profession with an often overwhelming amount of pressure and responsibility tied to it. However, it can also be a very rewarding profession. Unfortunately, many teachers simply cannot overcome the immense responsibilities well enough to stick with the profession for any length of time.
Jalongo and Heider (2006) present staggering statistics in their article, saying that forty-six percent of new teachers in this country quit teaching after five years or less, with that percentage growing to fifty percent in urban areas. Even more shocking is the fact that ninety percent of teachers who are hired in this country are replacements for teachers who have left teaching for some reason other than retirement (p. 379). There are many reasons that the rate of teachers leaving the profession is so high.
Anhorn (2008) very concisely sums up some of the major problems in her article when she says, “Difficult work assignments, inadequate resources, isolation, role conflict, and reality shock are some top reasons for the horrendous attrition statistics with the widespread “sink or swim” attitude that is prevalent in so many schools” (p. 15). It is easy to see why the beginning teacher attrition rate is so high. There is simply so much to do these days, between extracurricular responsibilities and high-stakes testing, it is easy to get overwhelmed.
In her article, Sitler (2007) sums it up quite nicely when she says, No one expects the first years of teaching to be easy. No one expects that Teaching assignments will never change. But no one expects either that One’s first years of teaching will be compromised by administrative Systems that make instability and disillusionment routine occurrences Rather than exceptions. (p. 22) If teachers received more support from the administration and less of the strong arm effect, educators wouldn’t be so timid in teaching and instead bring more value to the classroom.
Many of us probably remember our parents being very involved with our education, whether they were part of the PTA or just asked about your grades and homework every day when you got home. Unfortunately, today, parental involvement seems to be waning. While there still is a good deal of involvement at the elementary level, middle school and high school, when children really need that parental guidance, it’s almost nonexistent. It is our responsibility to try to involve parents who seem hesitant and reluctant to be a part of their child’s education.
No matter what the hesitation is from the parent, be it a language barrier, fear of school itself, whatever might be causing a parent to be stand offish about their child’s education and being an active part of it, not only the teacher, but administration should use every opportunity to pull a parent in and allow them to become and active part in their child’s education.
When parents are involved in education, teens typically have higher grade point averages, higher test scores on standardized and classroom assessments, enrollment in more rigorous academic courses, more classes passed, more credits earned toward graduation, and higher graduation rates.
Parents are not performing their duties as first teacher to their kids in education. Many parents left their kids behind and keep putting the blame on the teachers due to their misunderstanding of the No Child Left Behind Act. These parents concerned are the ones who left their kids behind and not the schools; teachers are secondary to kids’ education. Unfortunately so many educators feel such pressure to prepare students for the TAKS test that they fail to ever demonstrate the relevance of what they are teaching. They fail to teach the items within the curriculum that are useful outside of the walls of the school.
So, we have students who graduate and can solve quadratic equations, classify living organisms and distinguish between a plant and an animal cell but don’t know how to budget money, complete a financial aid form, solve a real-world problem, think for themselves, or apply the testing information beyond what was taught. I have heard people say the purpose of the exams is to make sure our students do not graduate before they know basics skills… like Physics? Most of the arguments I hear come from people who have never even looked at the test; people who just blindly adhere to the regulations because it is a law.
Which leads me to the most frustrating and most often argument I hear which is, “We need to hold students accountable because it is the law? ” Well, there have been lots of bad laws over the years. Does anyone remember the Jim Crow laws? If as a country we were to have blindly followed these laws, then blacks and whites would still be segregated. There is no denying the fact that the problems mentioned, are not going to go away over night. They are major issues facing American education, and educators simply must do everything in our power to conquer them.
An education is such a valuable and necessary tool, and we must do everything we can to get our students to value their education. I personally do believe there is hope for a positive change. Problems don’t fix themselves, and if admitting that we need help in going about the way our nation views the importance of education is what needs to be done, then it’s time to slap on the “HELLO MY NAME IS …” sticker and start being honest and start fixing the problems of teacher attrition, lack of parent involvement and teaching children how to take a state issued test.
References Jalongo, M. R. , & Heider, K. (2006). Editorial teacher attrition: An issue of national concern. Early Childhood Education Journal, 33(6), 379-380. Anhorn, R. (2008). The profession that eats its young. The Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 74(3), 15-26. Sitler, H. C. (2007). The lived experience of new teachers, or why should I stay in this profession? Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 87(4), 22.