"To many teachers, career has failed" (Page 1, Tuesday) is a timely and well-written article about a topic that should be revisited every year for decades to come. The writer quotes valid statistics and arguments, but he fails to really get to the problems that have the most impact on teachers. Dennis Van Roekel of the National Education Association quotes the same old facts; some are valid, while others are just political pabulum.
Young teachers are instructed to do everything but what they are hired to do. They are programmed to think that they have to justify themselves every day to a group of kids. More than a few times, young teachers have confided in me the stress they endure every morning when facing a class. Instead of teaching a valid subject with focused parameters, they are asked to be bureaucratic paper-pushers for one ridiculous political program or the other. Instead of teaching, they are mandated to graduate students they know have no workable skills.
Instead of dealing one-on-one with students' parents in an effort to see children progress, they are forced to deal with special-interest groups that are more interested in baby-sitting than teaching. Educators also are forced daily to confront dangerous and violent students without the authority to run their own classes. They are forced to present a dumbed-down curriculum that makes the mention of Advanced Placement and/or Honors programs laughable. Finally, classes are peopled with students who have no business being in this country, much less in the school system.
The U.S. education system must adopt a policy of hiring the best if it wishes to match the dignity and respect shown to teachers elsewhere. Let our teachers teach, and our students will learn. The No Child Left Behind boondoggle was a nice idea and made for a catchy phrase. However, I can assure you that there are kids who want to be left behind.
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