Therefore… ergo… we need to improve the teachers. All this leads to the following conclusion; poor teaching must be the reason society is – essentially – on the brink.
Flawed logic! There you go. That’s American education in a nutshell, and there’s really not much to argue about in anything I just said, at least prior to the conclusion. However (and this error is at the root of much that passes for contemporary social and political debate), stringing a series of statements together that are – ostensibly - true does not necessarily prove the case, nor justify so many sweeping generalizations.
In the case of education, there are good teachers and there are the not so good. Professional standards, supervision and accountability often work together to accomplish a "so-so" job - as in any profession.
But, and this statement needs to be hung on a huge banner in every legislature in America - and a few school board meeting rooms for good measure, "Classroom time = a mere 14,4% of a child’s year – and that’s assuming perfect attendance. Kids actually spend more or their lives with the computer and the TV than a classroom teacher! The key variable in preparing children to succeed in life is the home."
That’s worth repeating: The key variable in preparing children to succeed in life is the home.
But the legislature can’t get inside my house or yours, and neither can Mr. Gates (unless Windows 7 is even trickier than we knew!). So we do what we can do and we throw rocks at the teachers instead.
The Gates Grant’s end game is the laudable goal of identification and implementation when it comes to best practices in terms of classroom instruction. But, the initiative seems to be being parsed as “Fix the teachers and everything will be Okay.”
Well, no, it won’t!
- Bottom line, the majority of teachers don't need fixing. Hillsborough County’s teachers are already well qualified and competent. They will doubtless benefit from the Gates program in the same way they profit from any of the extensive in-service trainings they already pursue.
- The Gates program is a distraction that's already being used more as an offensive weapon than an opportunity to grow. Such an approach will, in all likelihood - negatively impact the classroom.
- What public education really needs is a general revival of family life; one that takes more active responsibility for raising children, supports education, and works to re-craft the values that define our culture.