Education Issues April, 2012

 

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Last month, education made the news daily. At this time of year, school districts are winding down and gearing up at the same time. Educators are finding it hard to keep motivated in the face of declining support from state governments for our profession. Parents are celebrating their children’s college acceptance letters while wondering where the tuition money will come from.

These controversial education issues weighed on me last month. It’s not an easy time to be a parent or an educator. I think it’s time to start thinking like Einstein, and come up with some new solutions, don’t you? What do you think about schools using advertising to increase revenue, computerized teaching, grading systems, and the cost of college? Just follow the link to read the full articles – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

On school advertising: Imagine walking into your child’s school and seeing the expected: a lunchroom with folding tables and bench seats, a stage, the office doors, a lost and found box, lockers, classrooms, and a blacktop with basketball courts.

Now imagine your child’s school with a lunchroom advertising on the tables endorsing eating habits and nutrition, a stage with offers for drama education, office doors advertising organizational skills, classrooms endorsing local services, and a blacktop with banners on school safety.

Many public schools today, searching for innovative funding sources, are considering advertising on their campus. Should schools allow ads on school grounds?

On computerized teaching: It’s an educator’s worst nightmare: technology. I’m not talking about the common, everyday kinds of technology that our students carry in their pockets, or we use to read our emails.

I’m talking about the kind of technology that is replacing teachers.

In Virginia Tech’s largest classroom teachers are not required. Can teachers really be replaced by computers?

On grading practices: How does a student know when a teacher likes them? How does a teacher show they like a student? These were the questions I grappled with this week with a freshman AVID student.

While making my rounds in the classroom, I overheard him saying, “Why does she hate me so much? She never gives me 100% on my work. She doesn’t think my answers are good enough. She says other people’s questions are better than mine.” As I walked up and stood behind him, he sensed my presence and stopped. Do you think simply completing a school assignment should earn an “A”?

On the cost of a college education: When I entered the University of California at Berkeley in 1987 as an English major, I really wasn’t thinking about the high cost of education. Tuition was under $2,000 per year; add in books and living expenses and I still wasn’t coming close to what today’s students face. In 2011, tuition costs were up to $12,834 for California residents, and $35,712 for out-of-state students.

Two senior UC Davis students working as tutors in my public school classroom report they will graduate with $14,000 and $20,000 in student loans, despite having entered college with scholarships and their work study jobs.

Something is wrong with this system. What if we did something crazy, and offered free UC tuition?

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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6 thoughts on “Education Issues April, 2012

  1. Mama,
    yes, something is wrong with our educational system…

    I think you should run for the school board & change things!! Xxx You’d be Superb.

    1. Haha…I prefer to change things from the grassroots level…thanks for the vote of confidence, though!

  2. Keesha says:

    Teaching at the college level, I see some students having been well prepared, but they are few and far between at my open enrollment college. Most can’t spell, or put a decent sentence together, let alone write a well thought-out essay. It is depressing. I hate giving exams because I dread reading them, because I know my students are smarter (though maybe not as diligent) as the test outcomes suggest, and because I wind up being stressed, drinking and spewing profanities as I grade.

    Everyone agrees that the system is very, very broken, but everyone feels it is broken for different reasons.

    And as the parent of 2 little ones, and a family who can’t afford private school, I am very, very concerned. And part of the problem is an anti-intellectual society that wants to reward mediocrity. Sorry to get all Tiger Mom, but that’s the way I see it.

    1. Excellent points, Keesha. It is shameful that we graduate students without basic competencies. It’s not doing anyone any favors. I completely agree with the anti-intellect we see in our media, sports, and so many communities. Families shouldn’t have to pay for private schools to ensure an adequate education. It’s a basic human right, in my opinion. And I like Tiger Moms!

  3. Courtney G says:

    I was just thinking today that all of this gets turned on its head with the taxpayer picking up student loans. When your new adult/child wants to go out of State, you’ll say, sure…borrow away! I won’t feel the cost of it now. Schools can just raise prices even more with no pressure to be affordable. Everyone can just borrow and have no cost. No cost today, but oh so much cost later, and what does that do to the integrity of our system as well? Does it really matter what area of study you choose? You won’t have to have that job to pay for it. Funny I found your post today while thinking of all of this:)

    1. I guess my post came your way for a purpose! It really is about integrity. Our government needs to provide quality education for everyone who earns it at the college level. It shouldn’t be about who can pay, who is the best at a sport, or anything other than merit. Thanks for your thoughtful comments!

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