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Fixing education? It’s a matter of common sense

By Eric Lee

As a former teacher, I would love to see teachers make six-figure incomes, because the ones we currently have deserve it. But Flanagan’s reasoning about attracting more, smarter and more talented teachers is faulty at many levels. Right off the top of my head, here’s a few:

1. Smarter doesn’t mean a better teacher. In fact, high functioning individuals often cannot relate to the students at all. Imagine a Dr. Sheldon Cooper of TV’s “Big Bang Theory” trying to handle students — a total disaster. I have seen this in practice. If the students can’t relate to and respect the teacher, no learning will take place, no matter how good the teacher is at their subject.

2. The problem with public schools and students not learning is not the teachers, it’s with students who are basically lazy, and parents who don’t care enough about their education. Personal responsibility for one’s own learning is virtually non-existent these days.

3. The problem of many students not wanting to learn will not be solved by paying teachers more. If kids don’t care about learning, it doesn’t matter who teaches them, or how they are taught, they still won’t learn because they choose not to. Conversely, the student who wants to learn will excel no matter who teaches, how it is taught, or with no teacher at all. In fact, teachers’ salaries that are based on student achievement simply promotes students purposely doing poorly to hurt teachers that they don’t like. This is not uncommon.

4. Teacher education candidates are at an all-time low in colleges of Michigan due to excessive and poorly conceived micro-management by politicians who have no idea what makes for good education, making it a living Hell to teach. The word has spread, so look for increasing teacher shortages in the near future. All the more so for the “smarter people” — remember that they are smarter, which helps them deduce the pitfalls of teaching even better than we “stupid teachers.” Due to state requirements, I was actually forced to write multiple-choice tests on how to do art projects for final exams and testing out in art classes — a complete waste of everyone’s time. It’s like taking a test on how to chew gum. That is one of many examples of clueless politicians meddling where they do not belong. Having been a student at one time doesn’t qualify you to fix education. If you haven’t taught in a public school classroom in the last 10 years, you are in no position to fix the problems of education.

5. Ridiculous, time-wasting paperwork and red tape for teachers to wade through from the state, keeping teachers from working on teaching better. I have worked in private industry as well, and I can tell you that if an office worker/executive was given this much busywork, they would be given one or more secretaries to handle the daily load. Currently, every teacher should have their own secretary, and two for special education teachers.

6. No one knows where the money will come from when schools are reducing their budgets already, can’t buy books or supplies needed, can’t pay for teacher conferences, and firing older (more expensive salaried) teachers through unscrupulous tactics and closing programs to save money.

7. There is nothing wrong with the teachers or curriculum we already have. As mentioned before, the main problem lies with the students and also too many uncaring parents. Too bad “I give a damn” isn’t being taught in many homes, where the students get their attitudes toward education and their work ethic. But politicians don’t get reelected when they are that honest with the voters.

8. At the least, a public campaign of awareness is needed to wake up these students and parents. Even better, a required course and connected licensing in how to parent if you want to get married and/or have children. As my deceased dad, a beloved and fantastic teacher of 35-plus years used to say, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

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