biggest growing issue in your opinion?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by jessiiteach, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. jessiiteach

    jessiiteach Companion

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    Dec 6, 2011

    What do you think is the biggest growing issue in schools today?

    I think it is the age at which kids are "maturing" thanks to technology. i.e. sexting in 5th grade (true story).

    maybe the sexual abuse by female teachers.
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 6, 2011

    Really?:dizzy:

    How about merit pay?
    Standardized tests?
    Common core standards?
    Teacher evaluations?

    I see any number of these on the news, in publications weekly.
     
  4. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Standaridized testing hands down- although I would say that's been the biggest "issue" for years now...it just keeps getting worse. Problems related to standardized testing....

    -Teaching to the test
    -Developmentally inapporpriate practices in early elementary, in an effort to prepare students for the test
    -Testing everything, because somehow people have come to believe that's the only way we can get data on how effective schools are
    -Glossing over or skipping "life skills" that students really need to know, because these aren't on the test
    -Drill and kill workbooks replacing critical thinking excercises, so that students can pass the test
    -Kids growing up hating school because all they ever did was learn how to take a test
    -Schools being rated based on test scores, allowing wealthy schools with a lot of resources to enjoy a good rating and actually teach things like critical thinking and real world skills, while poorer schools with bad scores/ratings teach more test, test, test in an effort to get the kids to pass...therefore making the achievement gap even biggger
    -Rating teacher effectiveness (and sometimes, teacher pay- "merit pay") based on standardized test scores, again luring the best teachers away from the low ses and "more difficult" populations that need them the most
    -Basing student success on passing/failing the test. High achieving students aren't pushed more, because they'll pass the test and no one needs to worry about them. Low achieving students who will make a lot of progress but won't pass the test are completely written off, while the focus is placed on "cusp" kids who might pass the test.
     
  5. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I'd say this is the biggest problem in society today and therefore would agree that it is the biggest problem in schools as well. Interestingly, I think the testing culture is tied into this as creativity is nowhere to be found in school so they end up being "creative" in far from appropriate ways.
     
  6. tchr4evr

    tchr4evr Companion

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    It's not fun anymore

    Testing is the biggest issue. School is not fun anymore. I am a diehard "Gleek" and I watch Glee religiously. I watch it because it reminds me of my high school show choir, and it reminds me of my theatre kids. What kids remember about school is not the tests or the lessons you teach. They will remember you, but not the activity they did in class. They remember the sports, the rehearsals, the weird stuff at lunch, the kid who tripped up the stairs during the fire drill. There are a lot of kids who would be saved from dropping out if they wanted to be at school--my school is run like a prison, when the bell rings at 2:15, if you're not out of the building or with a teacher, you're written up. Doesn't matter if you're waiting for a sibling or a parent. I have to escort my kids to their lockers if they want to go during rehearsal. Even if it's at 4:00 in the afternoon. I've had to stop rehearsal to escort a kid somewhere because they always say "They'll get in trouble if they are left alone." In 7 years and over 20 productions, I've only had two kids get suspended for a discipline issue. And only one was deserved. And none happened during my watch, so to speak.

    When school goes back to a place where the kids want to be, learning will happen, and test scores will consequently improve.
     
  7. isabunny

    isabunny Comrade

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    No jobs! Larger class sizes, standardized testing, NCLB, kids as young as 5 and their parents filling out teacher evaluation forms that determine teacher pay, unhappy & overworked teachers, no time to teach creativity, paperwork, inclusive education issues, paying for your students supplies, ect...
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    The biggest issue in my mind is that we're not doing the job of educating all kids to the best of our ability. Too many kids ARE getting left behind.

    Sometimes it's their fault-- they don't try or don't value education.

    Sometimes it's the fault of their parents-- they don't place a priority on education, they don't give their kids the tools they'll need to get an education.

    Sometimes it's the fault of the system-- classes too large, teachers without textbooks or the other basics they need to teach. Some teachers aren't supported as they need to be. Some pander to political priorities instead of educational ones.

    Sometimes it's the fault of the teacher. There are too many teachers out there who don't know their material, who don't know the techniques they need to reach their kids, who don't care enough to try to reach a kid because that kid isn't likeable.

    Sometimes it's nobody's fault.

    But the kids are the ones who suffer.
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I'm not quite sure how to react to that.
     
  10. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I would say the biggest growing issue right now is the constant demonizing of schools in general and teachers in particular by the media, politicians and general public.

    Everyone thinks they are an expert on education because everyone had to attend school. Everyone also had a "bad" teacher in school, so it is easy to say "Our kids can't compete because the teachers are lazy." The media and politicians only perpetuate this demonization by giving anecdotal examples, then saying "But *I* have the solution."

    The sad thing is that everyone also had a GOOD teacher that went the extra mile to help them understand the material or maybe to just be a friend and counselor in a time of need, but too many people forget that part. Many seem to have the opinion "I didn't like having to go to school to learn stuff I've never used and Mr. or Mrs. Horrible Teacher only made it that much worse." Never mind that Mrs. Caring Teacher did her best to make it better.

    Standardized testing is a big issue as well, but it's one we've been dealing with for well over a decade, so we should be adjusted to it by now. I agree it hampers (and even squashes) creative lesson plans sometimes and forces teachers to "teach to the test", but we've had the system in place long enough that we should be able to "work the system" and still bring creative and exciting lessons to the kids.

    It's very easy for our politicians to demonize the industry and the individuals in that industry. However, it would be JUST as easy for them to PRAISE the effort and dedication being made by the huge majority of teachers and, thus, help create a very positive image of education and teachers in the mind's eye of the general public. And some of our politicians, including Obama, are starting to take that step and point out all the GOOD things teachers do. We still have a long way to go. People often seem to believe negative images far more easily than positive ones, so there is still a lot of work to be done and a lot of damage to be undone, but I think we may finally be approaching a turn in the corner.
     
  11. tek_war505

    tek_war505 Rookie

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    Dec 7, 2011

    Bullying seems to be one the biggest issues from the discussions of teachers in my classes and what I see on the media.
     
  12. jessiiteach

    jessiiteach Companion

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    Yes I was thinking about adding bullying to my list. Can you share how you handle it when you see it happening? Can you share what your teacher friends say?
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 7, 2011

    Is this 'list' for a class assignment?
     
  14. John Lee

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    Teachers don't use the protection that their tenure provides. I truly think that's the biggest problem in education. Tenure is a powerful protection, theoretically in place so that educators can fight for causes that need fighting (in education), without fear of retribution. And yet, it's main/only use is in identifying seniority levels... in terms of who gets employed, and who gets laid-off.
     
  15. Mellz Bellz

    Mellz Bellz Comrade

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    These are all great answers. I have to add that I think one of the most frustrating issues in education right now is the fact that there is more pressure than ever to raise the academic bar for students yet education as a whole is being cut back on more and more each year. How can students make significant academic growth when teachers are being laid off so we have larger class sizes and less support staff? Resources are very limited and a lot of teachers have not had raises in the last few years. Teachers do a remarkable job but with the odds stacked against us like that it's nearly impossible not to have students fall through the cracks because we've cut out all of our safety nets.
     
  16. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    That's a great point too. Our district implemented an entirely new "rigorous curriculum" this year that basically requires teachers to create EVERYTHING rather than using resource books. It also has the district putting out tests towards the end of units that teachers can't even see until the day of the test- in theory to stop them from "teaching to the test", but that also means they're guessing as to what kind of set up it is, what parts of the unit will be tested and what parts won't, etc. They've basically doubled everyone's workload in the name of "raising the bar", yet we all took salary cuts this year. This is only my 2nd year, but for other teachers in the district the salary has been frozen for years before that as well. The salary/benefits cuts they're talking about for next year are BIG. I'm hoping to get out before then. They're asking people to do more and more with less and less.
     
  17. Pacificpastime

    Pacificpastime Companion

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    I'd have to agree with PPs on the lack of freedom and creativity given to teachers. The standards stress teachers which can stress students. The extra work wears on teachers and teaching performance is hurt. Also, the problem with some much material is the lack of ability to teach in vivid ways because of time constraints. You can't keep increasing demand, yet cut the supply.
     
  18. jessiiteach

    jessiiteach Companion

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    Dec 29, 2011

    Yes I am in graduate school and needed to poll teachers on what they think are growing issues. Is this a problem? Does it matter why I am asking? Or do you appreciate that no matter why I am asking, I am learning a broad scope of issues teachers find problematic, which was the point of the project? I find it hard to believe a real teacher would actually ask me why I am asking. The point is that I am asking and learning.
     
  19. jessiiteach

    jessiiteach Companion

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    That is very interesting that you bring this up because tenure was removed as an option for new teachers in my state by the latest governor. I appreciate your perspective on the topic of tenure. What do you think about tenure not being an option for new teachers? Why do you think the governor cut tenure anyways? I am new to this field and the politics that surround it but I have been very active in rallies throughout my program as I learn about what I need to fight for.
     
  20. jessiiteach

    jessiiteach Companion

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    This makes me sad because one of the main reasons I switched careers was because I thought being a teacher would provide a creative outlet for me to inspire and educate children. Thanks for your input. I need to know these kinds of things before I get into it.
     
  21. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    I can't really add to what I've seen in many of these posts.

    "Waterfall" hit on a lot of issues I agree with, but "Tchr4evr" really hit on some items that strike pretty close to home.

    We've practically eliminated ALL electives in our school as part of the growing emphasis on core subjects skills with directly correlate to what will be tested on the state exams.

    The atmosphere is strictly business, a strictly factory-assembly-line approach. Get 'em in, get 'em out.



    :down:
     
  22. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Thanks for the clarification, jessiiteach. When the assignment is to find out what real teachers think, the A to Z community is a pretty good place to do that; you've already seen a range of opinions.

    I'm afraid, though, that from time to time a rather new member will post a broad question when the assignment was not to find out what teachers think but rather to set forth one's own reasoned and researched account. In short, such a poster is expecting A to Z members to do his homework for him. I hope it makes sense to you that a community of teachers might tend to be less forthcoming with answers in such a case.
     
  23. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    :clap:
    Very well said. I agree with every point you have made.
    Since I work in an inner city district, I see more and more how much kids hate to come to school, and how difficult it is to find teachers willing to take on the challenge of working in our district. We lack academic freedom, and the creativity in our lessons is so limited, since we have to teach "to the test". I also miss teaching science and social studies. :(
     
  24. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    It's a question often asked here on the forums. As professional educators, we are naturally hesitant to 'do homework' for others. It's best to be upfront. I hope your assignment turned out well....did you include the issues you listed in your first post?
     
  25. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Well, I can only speculate on all those things...
    I think tenure is "under attack" because it's something of a natural consequence that comes from an overpopulation of certain demographics within teaching ranks.

    First and foremost, it's obviously a cost-cutting effort. The most tenured teachers are the highest paid... so removing tenure effectively opens up the ability to remove teachers who happen to make the most money. I get that.

    But I believe it's also a natural effort to "cull the herd" so to speak. As I said, I think this sort of occurs naturally, to meet an imbalance in the overall population. In this case, we have too many entitled teachers in the midst, and we don't have enough hungry teachers with something to prove. I think this dynamic manifests itself in a myriad of ways, but the bottom line being that it creates an impetus for change.

    I am in favor of job security. I am in favor of job protections for teachers. I am in favor of preserving all the factors that make teaching a "profession". But they shouldn't be at the expense of other things that are just as important.
     
  26. jessiiteach

    jessiiteach Companion

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    Yes, that does make sense.
     
  27. jessiiteach

    jessiiteach Companion

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    I see your perspective. Last time I was upfront about a survey, I only got one response. Maybe it was because the survey had too many questions, or maybe it was because nobody read any further than my opening line "I am taking a reading intervention course..."

    The survey questions were actually a small part of a larger final exam assignment on ethical, legal, and social issues. I didn't use the responses in a formal poll format but I did mention the issues that everyone brought up in a few sentences.

    The issues I mentioned in my first post were just to get a conversation going, not meant to be included in the poll unless someone else agreed with me. I am glad to have learned what teachers think about the issues and compare it to the issues my coursework focused on the entire semester (i.e. rights of teachers, rights of students, equal education).
     
  28. nstructor

    nstructor Cohort

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    My sentiments EXACTLY!!!!!!!:rolleyes:
     
  29. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    If I was going to some it up into one issue, I would say it is labor issues with teachers.

    The pay and benefits just don't match up to the treatment, hours, personal expenses, workload, and training involved in teaching. This creates unhappy teachers who are leaving the profession, and it doesn't entice the cream of the crop to go into teaching in the first place. Granted, there are still those of us who do it because it is a calling, and I used to be on board with that, but you'd have to be a saint to still want to stick with it the way teachers are treated at my job, and I know many others are in the same boat. Yeah, it's a calling, but when I am snapping at my BF constantly, working 6 hours after dismissal every day, and weekends - I don't know who can really be expected to stick with that.
     
  30. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    silverspoons, I agree.
    I just want to know-when did teachers become the enemy? When did we become the bad guy? I am not sure where the public gets the "entitlement" part of my salary, as I have had to pay-out of pocket-for my step pay increases. I am currently paying exactly what my friends (non teaching professionals) are for health care and into my pension. I just don't get it. Like you said, silver, I felt this was a calling. Yet I keep wondering when the tables turned-when my academic freedom was taken away, when I so stressed out that my nightly dreams are about my classroom, and when I am still doing schoolwork at 8:00 at night. I am tired of arguing with the public. I read the comments in the newspaper, or listen to people talk, and I wonder how the ignorance grew to this proportion.
     
  31. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    My biggest concern is the PRESSURE that teachers do produce high test scores. These are children that we are teaching and on any given day they can be "on" and another day could be "off". I teach to the total child not to a test. Therefore, I worry more about the day to day progress that I see instead of how well my children perform on a certain day of the year. I do think that the administration is being pushed to care far too much about how children perform on a test rather than the gains that the child is making throughout the school year. These two things are not the same thing and I fear that eventually it will be MORE about the test than the child. Our system is clearly headed in this direction.
     
  32. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Agree! I think so many of the other issues that have been mentioned can be traced back to this. I'm not treated as a professional. I'm not trusted to make my own decisions regarding what's best for my students, to create my own meaningful assessments to measure them, and I'm not rewarded when I produce results. I'm WELL EDUCATED and TRAINED to do these things, so let me do them!
     
  33. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    <<The pay and benefits just don't match up to the treatment, hours, personal expenses, workload, and training involved in teaching>>

    If this were true then teaching jobs wouldn't be hard to find.

    This is simply a ludicrous statement that has no real-world truth to it whatsoever. Teaching is still an incredibly sought after field. If you're unhappy with it get out and let one of the 7 people I personally know that have been trying for over a year to get in. I make good money, work great hours and am constantly rewarded for what I do.

    So, I'll go ahead and update my original post to say that unchecked liberalism, victimization and entitlement among my teaching peers is the biggest growing issue.
     
  34. John Lee

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    I couldn't say it better Rock. Unchecked liberalism, victimization, entitlement...
     
  35. EMonkey

    EMonkey Connoisseur

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    In someways I think it is the lack of clarity about teaching through the media that creates the difficulties for example the OP lists sexual abuse by female teachers as the biggest problem when OP is getting a graduate degree in Ed? How would this be portrayed as the largest concern except through the media and the medias' focus on what draws the most attention whether it is a valid focus or not. So the media is supporting the propaganda of teachers being the bad guys simply because it draws much more focus than the truthful statement that yes, as in every profession there are teachers who do not do as well as others; however the majority of them are hard working caring people who try their best.
     
  36. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    :clap::clap: several questioned the OP's original list of 'concerns'...with the diversity of opinions, I'm sure the OP is left with more questions than answers...:eek:

     
  37. teacher333

    teacher333 Devotee

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    The biggest issue, in my opinion, is the lack of respect for the teaching profession.
     
  38. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    The biggest issue, in my opinion, is that we are expected to make all students proficient when the students come to us with so many needs that are not met. The emotional needs of many students are so great that before we begin teaching we have to address those needs first.
     
  39. fast chalk

    fast chalk Comrade

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    I agree.
    The teaching profession is not respected at all.
    I remember when I was a kid all teachers and heads were respected and children received only one clear and coherent message, at school and at home. The message is totally different nowadays.
     
  40. Bumble

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    I would say the violence in schools is out of control!
     
  41. EdEd

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    I think many legitimate issues have been raised, but think it's interesting to look for an underlying force or forces that seem to be driving many of these changes. On the surface, one could say that testing, job shortages, or treatment of educators in the media are "changes," and while I think they are changes, they aren't the true, underlying changes, but the symptoms of larger forces at play, which I see as this:

    1. For the first time in the history of the profession (over the last 10 years), we are expecting educators and schools to be accountable for their product in a measurable way.

    2. Diversity of social background and academic preparation in many schools is making the job of teaching a group of students much more different, and difficult.

    3. This previous point of diversity has come from the democratization of the American classroom:

    - We don't racially segregate classrooms anymore (overtly, at least): previously, Black children were educated separately from White children, and the Hispanic population was much smaller.

    - We don't deny any group of students education (again, overtly): previously, many groups were denied an equal education or not required to participate - Black children, children with disabilities, poor children.

    While these changes have been, no doubt, good, they have also created new issues related to teacher preparation/training, and manageability of the task of educating an extremely diverse group of students with a very diverse set of needs socially, academically, behaviorally, etc., meaning that curricula are now less effective, whole group instruction leaves out more children, etc.

    4. Globalization: We live in a world where we are more engaged with other countries and economies, and more connected as well. We more actively measure our performance against the performance of other countries - in business and in education - and find a need to compete with those countries. All of this means that the standard has been increased, or at least changed.

    Overall, we are teaching different kinds of classrooms today compared with 60 years ago before desegregation, globalization, and IDEA, and expected to produce different and more results, or at least results that can be measured.

    I try to bring up the point, though, that progress often doesn't come without struggle. Desegregation, globalization, and IDEA could - no doubt - be considered remarkable societal achievements, yet have (at least indirectly) resulted in new challenges we must face. NCLB was just a baby step in our society's response to these challenges - it had many flaws, but just as a baby often stumbles when learning to walk, so our educational system will make huge blunders on its way toward overcoming the challenges we face in the wake of our previous social victories.
     

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