What can we do to help the education crisis? Our voices need to be heard...

Discussion in 'General Education' started by TamiJ, Jan 27, 2009.

  1. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Jan 27, 2009

    Lately, I have been very angered by the way our country puts education last. The message behind all the cuts to education is that education just is not a priority. The last thing we need is education cuts in light of an educational system that is already failing and needs major reform.

    But, what can we do? I think we need a mass attempt to let the public knows how big of a crisis this is. I have emailed Glenn Beck (commentator on FoxNews) asking that he discuss the issue on his show. I don't know that he will even read my email. If any of you are tired of the cuts being made to education, I am asking that you email Glenn Beck too. I think using the media to get the word out about our crisis is important. I honestly think that the public doesn't realize how bad it is. In addition, does anyone else have any other ideas about what we can do? I don't think things are going to change until we make an uproar. It might not help, but it sure can't hurt.
     
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  3. Samothrace

    Samothrace Cohort

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    I'd say there are a lot of teachers that would agree. So much of the time it's b/c famalies only see it as money money money and more taxes etc. As bad as it sounds, when I was in school I'm sure my parents supported school levies, now that I've been done and out of school I'm not sure they do as much. Only b/c they have been hit hard in all the economy mess. I was the first person in my family to even go onto college. My family is working class.

    Right now I work in an urban district where it'sjust a mess. You have no support from home, if the kids are even in their home/have a home not to mention the over 700 kids I teach a week.

    For me personally as an art teacher, I'm trying to fight the fight for resource teachers! Why on earth is it acceptable for someone trained to teach 5th science and math ok to teach the visual arts or music of whatever the case may be. It's bad enough that my room is a cart that I push around, but it's even worse when the kids know my room is in a boiler room. That just sends a message the arts don't matter! And that definately reflects in the attitudes of the kids I teach. I want to know how I can be highly qualified in art education...but it's ok for someone else who isn't qualifed in my area to teach it.

    But I agree, things need done, and it needs to start with teachers actually doing what we tell our kids, getting along and working together.
     
  4. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I agree that teachers really need to work together. It's sad because our electives are being cut and kids are suffering from that loss. Students need to be well-rounded individuals, and they just aren't getting that.

    I understand what you are saying about how students view the importance of art based on the limited resources in which you have to work with. The message being relayed to them is that it is not important.

    When I was teaching at the high school in a neighboring town, I ran into a lot of difficulty due to the high gang population. Some of my kids had serious, serious issues to deal with like not having a place to sleep at night. These kids need serious help and we need the resources to help reach out to those students. I don't even know what the answer would be to that issue, but I feel like we are just failing our kids. I had a guy who had almost been jumped into a gang but then started getting into God. He would bring his Bible to school everyday. He wanted to join a Christian club and I tried to find one on campus, but there was only one for athletes. I then tried to get one started but was told that that wasn't a good idea because I was on a temporary contract. Well, that kid went back to his gang. I feel like it was partly the blame of myself and the school for not being able to provide him with the necessary resources to get him away from that life. Anyway, with resources being taken away from us we simply cannot serve our students. Simply.
     
  5. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    Jan 27, 2009

    There was a pretty big rally in Phoenix last weekend protesting the proposesd budget cuts. One of the things that will be cut is full day kindergarten. They also want to cut the spending per pupil and teacher performance pay. Some school districts are following a four day model to save on transportation and electricity. With the economy right now, I can't even wrap my mind around how to solve this financial crisis!
     
  6. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    I emailed all of my legislators earlier this week. The state site had their email addresses.
     
  7. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Ku: What exactly did you say in your emails?
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jan 28, 2009

    I KNOW I'm not going to make any friends with this one.

    I think that, in the current economic crisis, education is going to have to get by with less money. With bigger classes, less technology, and less money.

    I think the short term priority has to be getting people to work-- stopping the hemmoraging unemployment rate. Kids who are hungry can't learn, and parents who are unemployed can't put food on the table. Kids who don't see daddy except on weekends because he had to take a job 500 miles away aren't going to be concentrating on academics.

    Cuts are being made to hospitals, to drug treatment programs, to food for the hungry--to just about every sector of the economy. I'm not sure that education should be a sacred cow. I think that we, as educated professionals, should use our intelligence and our imaginations and backgrounds and find a way to get by on less. And I don't think that less money has to imply worse education any more than more money automatically implies better education.

    Once we have employmnet under control, I agree that education has to be a high priority.
     
  9. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Jan 28, 2009

    Well said, Alice.

    Did no one read that even mighty Microsoft is cutting 5,000 jobs? And other employers who might have been said to be recession-proof are doing likewise?

    In many municipalities, schools are funded by a combination of property taxes and income taxes. People who've lost their jobs pay neither - and they tend to relocate. People who've lost their jobs or people who've had to relocate don't pay sales tax, either, and they don't make the purchases that keep the stores open that keep the factories producing and shipping that make the jobs possible.

    It's appropriate to hope for the ax to fall lightly, but it's foolishness to assume either that it won't or that it shouldn't. And how badly does education need to make enemies of the other public sectors that can also argue their role is vital?
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Ah, one lone friend before I brave the snow and head off to work!!!
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    That's what... um, fiends... are for!

    (No, that's not a typo.)
     
  12. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    I agree with what you said. Education must be a priority, but like other business, we must make cuts too. My colleague and I have always argued that we MUST get back to basics. I realize that technology is important, but more important than geography? Science? Grammar? In the past 15 years, I have seen the shift go from teaching these subjects to mastery to just touching on the subject to eliminating them to make way for Reading. Even though Reading is extremely important, students need a well rounded education. I, for one, am tired of textbook companies always pushing their latest fix to all our testing problems. I am even more tired of our administration buying into these programs. :mad:
     
  13. old-new teacher

    old-new teacher Comrade

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    Jan 28, 2009

    I'm going to have to agree with Alice here. It's a shame that education was put on the back burner during the Clinton years when our country was at a peak in its economic prosperity. But now, times are tough and we educators too will have to tighten our belts and ride the wave with the rest of the nation.
     
  14. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    As with Alice, I don't think education has to suffer just because we have a little less money. The difference for me, however, is that whether we have a little money or a lot of money there is a lot of mismanagement of funds. For example, our school offers free after school care. Granted there is a reason for it (language barrier issues when children go to other daycare centers) but we still could charge some money to offset some supplies. That program receives a better budget for "classroom supplies" than the regular classroom teacher does. That's just one program. I can see that throughout the school. YET someone adamantly suggested that a teacher pay for a space heater for her children because the school stubbornly refuses to heat the building properly.

    It really does not matter how much money we have or don't have. What matters is how we are using it.
     
  15. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Don't even get me started about Cali's proposal for 175 days instead of 180. How will that change things if all schools start at the same time but some schools put in a lot of staff days and the kids get out much later than schools that don't? You still have to heat the building, etc. I believe in staff days but if school A starts at the same time as school B but school A gets out at the end of May and school B gets out 2-3 weeks later, that's quite a difference in costs. Cutting 5 days off instructional time won't save things if the overall year is still long.
     
  16. Ross

    Ross Comrade

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    Jan 28, 2009

    "I don't think things are going to change until we make an uproar."

    I also know this will not make me any friends.

    Few will hear the uproar because they are busy watching television. Parents do not attend important events at schools, citizens ignore township meetings to discuss local issues, educational programs for everyone often have few that attend. The list can be longer.

    Want a better informed,more involved populace, cut the cable and block the satellite signal.

    We have serious problems in this country that requires serious discussion. This means people have at least given some of their time to learning and thinking about issues. I encounter people who admit that they give no time to such endeavors.

    What to do about the education crisis? Talk with friends and families. Talk with strangers. Contact politicians and be persistent. Yes, use the media and try to get them interested in the story. Educate our students so they can be a part of solving problems and making the world better.
     
  17. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Jan 28, 2009

    TamiJ ... I've received some responses.
    I kept the email short, it was something like:

    Dear ________________,
    I am a high school educator in our state. During this tough economic time, I ask that you take all actions possible to protect funding for K-12 public education. While I understand that budget belts are tightening in all areas, cuts to education will not only ripple across entire communities, but take away from what we know is best for our children.

    Sincerely,
    _________________
    My title, dept.
    My school
    My email address
     
  18. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Jan 28, 2009

    Now, more than ever, other countries are threatening and may have a chance to marginalize the US specifically, and the Western world in general. One of the early ways they will do this is through a better-educated populace.

    In an objective sense, there is nothing wrong with this: nations wax and wane in influence naturally, and it may be globally unhealthy for a single nation to have too much power. This is the case even though in a practical sense for many of us it would lead to a lowered standard of lifestyle.

    In another sense, however, this would be a tragedy: the Western world espouses values which are not held in particular regard elsewhere. In many places institutionalized racism is expected, personal freedoms are disregarded, and callous cruelty and political expediencies are built in to the judicial system.

    Republican neo-cons who want to maintain American dominance and maintain the freedom to bear arms should care about this. Left wing moonbats* who care about the right to protest and freedom from illegal search and seizure should care about this. Anyone who wants social security to continue in a productive fashion into their retirement should care about this.

    Funding is one part of the answer -- schools do need a certain amount of money to operate (though student performance has relatively low correlation to the amount spent per pupil, apparently). I think cutNglue has hit the nail on the head, though, with needing better management and use of those funds.

    I also tend to agree with Ross that teachers need to be passionate evangelists for education.



    * I couldn't resist using the word "moonbats", despite the lack of symmetry. It's just such a cute image.
     
  19. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Jan 28, 2009

    Having taught in Fla forever (since the late 70s) I have really felt like this state is pathetic regarding funding. Here we are one of the most popular destinations for tourists and lots of expensive real estate (beach front property). And we are near the bottom of the fifty states in spending. We have world class prisons with decent salaries and benefits (some guards start at
    the same pay with a HS diploma as a teacher in some counties). And now they are cutting and slashing county budgets. We operate on property taxes and gross sales tax receipts. Fla NEEDS a state income tax for two reasons. Tax those that can afford it, and take it off the backs of people that retire with a decent home but keep getting skyrocketing property taxes. And we need somehow to get that tourist money into the state coffers to fund our needs. I think a few casinos on our big beaches would bring in plenty of cash. Our lottery let us down from the get go. Legislators just took that lottery money as new ed money and put the old ed money elsewhere.

    oh yeah, and another thing. Teachers just keep taking whatever idiots in state DOE's tell us to do. We test and test and test and those tests (sometimes just one day) can determing a kid's passing or failing. We now teach kindergarten in PreK with teachers getting aide pay w/o college degrees. My little 4 year old sits in the room from 7:30-11:45 with no recess, just k-1 curriculum of math reading and writing. Is anyone in charge? Kids learn at an early age through play and hands on, NOT pencil an paper............I swear out idiot legislators think because Germany or Japan has these HIGH SAT scores we have to start kids at the age of 3 on academics. They dont realize those other countries are testing COLLEGE bound and we test them ALL...............
     
  20. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    A couple of corrections:

    1) Germany and Japan don't take the SAT, since it's a US test
    2) On the TIMSS, they do actually test all (at least Japan does)
    3) At least as far as Japan goes, they start academics later than the US. Their school year starts in April, and their academics are delayed a year. (this last one cuts in favor of your overall argument, actually).
     
  21. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    Jan 28, 2009

    I look at catalogues from TeachersDiscovery or Scholastic from time to time, and I wonder, "Schools actually pay $19.95 for a documentary on the Maya? $100 for a wall map? $550 for a unit plan?"

    This is ridiculous! Go online to YouTube, find some short video clips (they're more effective anyway), make your own unit plans with your objectives, search the Internet for exciting projects, and quit being so lazy.
     
  22. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Jan 28, 2009


    Love it! Do you mind if I use it as a template for my own letter to email?
     
  23. DallasTeacher

    DallasTeacher Companion

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    Jan 28, 2009

    Personally, I'm not willing to put one penny more into education through higher taxes. Enough is enough. I'm willing to bet every district could cut expenses, be it travel for administration, free before/after school care, unnecessary teacher training, or even (heaven formid) layers and layers of administrative personnel that add nothing to the classroom. In my district, we are spending millions teaching PK -5th graders to read and write in Spanish. These students aren't being taught English, but Spanish. We see this everyday when they arrive on our campus after 7 years of education with English scores of "1."

    Parents send their children to school without supplies and expect the school to furnish them. All the while, they have funds to buy chips, ice cream, candy, etc.
     
  24. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I do agree that we need to learn how to function off of less money. That is true. We certainly do need to tighten the belt like the rest of the country does; however, education should be last to be cut IMHO. Cutting teachers and shoving more students into classrooms is horendous. Yes it saves money, but it minimizes learning. A retired superintendent recently told me that until teachers stand together and demand change, things will remain the same. I honestly feel like at times we grow complacement and accepting of things as is, but now is the time to assert our voices and rise together and demand that the country make education a priority. I am not implying that we shouldn't have any cuts, certainly that is impossible and just not realistic. What I am saying is that we need the resources to be able to teach effectively to our students. There are serious issues plaguing education. I had gang members in my high school who were fighting to live. One student revealed to me that she had never gone home the night before; that she'd slept on the street. I cared so much about these kids, but I was limited in what I could do for them. Again, I don't know what the answer to this is. The gang issue is certainly separate from the budget issue, but we need resources to help reach out to these kids.

    Doug: I agree. That seems like a lot of wasted money. Youtube is great, and there is even teachertube (but Youtube has always been more helpful for me).
     
  25. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I agree that schools need to seriously look at what money is being spent on. As far as the program spent on teaching the kids to write in Spanish, that is crud and a definite misuse of money. Let the parents teach them how to write in Spanish. My daughter is half Mexican and fully bilingual, but I would be angry if that's what they were learning at school. Though my husband is the real Spanish speaker, I would be willing to teach my daughter how to read and write in Spanish if I wanted to (which I learned in HS).
     

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