Teacher Salaries, Dropout Rates, Length of School Term, Functional Illiteracy.....
Does the title of this post make you think about issues you are dealing with in your community? That is certainly the case for me, but I want you to know that these issues were taken from a book, Kentucky on the March, that was published in 1949! It is amazing that we are facing the same issues today that rose to the top of education concerns that many decades ago. The numbers are different, of course, but the bottom line is that the need for true reform is real; without it, we'll still be dealing with the same issues in 2049.
I believe that true reform has to be about reforming a whole system, not just an isolated piece of that system. But we have to have a strong place to start. For example, I have shared posts about the impact of paying teachers a professional wage and what that does to a system. Paying teachers a professional wage must be accompanied with a 12-month school year. Ok, two of the title issues solved. But what about dropout rates and illiteracy rates, along with many of our other issues?
We must start a cycle of attracting our nation's best students into our classrooms and keeping them there. When a professional wage awaits college graduates, a young person who wants to teach but is dissuaded from doing so by the current salary levels will seriously consider teaching and, as a result, create a stronger competition for positions within the profession. Stronger competition will enable colleges of education to be more selective and rigorous. A professional wage is a major step forward in reforming education in our country.
And for those great teachers who want to continue to teach, we must change the current climate and culture (in addition to the wages) in our schools to stop the huge turnover we are facing in Driving Miss Daisy Away. This is yet another factor we must change within our current systems. Changing the culture of the induction process alone will help many more teachers succeed and remain in the profession.
I could go on, but the bottom line is that our systems need full-scale change, and the first step is providing a professional wage for teachers. And in response to arguments that there isn't enough money to do this, I'm not sure we can say often enough: "We must begin to think about educating our children as an investment rather than expenditure." One our nation's leading authors and researchers on reforming education is Marc Tucker. I strongly recommend that you take a look at his work as you advocate for the kids in your community.