Are teachers forgetting they are paid to deliver a service?

When my ten-year old comes home and proudly imparts upon me his discovery of some new fact he learned in school, my first reaction is that his teacher did a good job delivering knowledge. That’s all we parents ask; that the teacher not only introduces them to new thoughts and concepts, but is able to ensure that the child gets it.

I think the teachers striking in Chicago have forgotten their primary mission. These teachers forget or never realized that they are paid to produce and deliver an educational service and evaluations are necessary to determine their output and quality of product. Maybe this is what they should focus on versus coming up with too many new ways to deliver the product based on theorizing they did for their masters’ thesis or dissertations.

Are kids going to school carrying the baggage of issues from home? Yes, they are. Should that be the excuse for not delivering a product? No. It just means teachers will have to find innovative ways of engaging kids so that they can deliver the product: education.

About Alton Drew

Alton Drew brings a straight forward and insightful brand of political market intelligence. Alton Drew graduated from the Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in economics and political science (1984); a Master of Public Administration (1993); and a Juris Doctor (1999). You can also follow Alton Drew on Twitter @altondrew.
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One Response to Are teachers forgetting they are paid to deliver a service?

  1. Ken Ciszewski says:

    “No Child Left Behind” originally mandated that by 2014 all students in the USA would be “proficient” at certain fairly high levels in certain defined skills. Recently, as I understand it, many school districts, and even whole states, are asking for relief from the “all” part of the requirement. Why? Because unless the level of achievement required is so low as to be useless in developing educated citizens, the “No Child Left Behind Requirement” for “all” can never be met.

    This was brought to light in my area a couple of years ago in an elementary school in a school district where most families were well off if not affluent, and in which in general the students did very well academically. At this one particular school, there were a few students who simply were not making the grade, so to speak, despite extensive efforts to help them do so. The school administration basically “freaked out”, cutting out recess and anything else that was not “academic” in an attempt to “get off the list of schools where all students were not proficient”. It was mentioned in the newspaper article that the overall economic condition of the students who were lagging academically was quite a bit lower than most of the students in the district.

    If you were the teacher of some of the students weren’t up to standard, and you tried everything you knew and then some, and some bureaucrat (or principal, it doesn’t matter) pointed the finger at you, even though many of your other students are doing well, how would you feel?

    True, life is not fair. On the other hand, it’s reasonable to try to get a clear view of where problems lie and what is really the cause of a particular problem, especially before penalizing someone because of the problem.

    I read not too long ago about an education administrator who admitted that, within 2 or 3 years at the beginning of a teacher’s professional career, he knew which ones were effective and making the grade, and which one’s weren’t cutting it, and probably weren’t going to cut it. He suspected many administrators also know this about the teachers they supervise. He also admitted, quite candidly, that school administrators generally did not use that knowledge effectively to weed out teachers who should really be doing something else, because they weren’t effective teachers.

    Those of us who work for a living kind of realize that not everyone in the workplace is motivated, and among the unmotivated, not all of those can be motivated to the necessary degree that they produce what they need to produce as “work product”, whatever that is. Students in school aren’t much different motivationally from workers. Some are motivated, some can become motivated, and some can’t be motivated no matter what.

    I agree that a strong effort should be made to motivate and teach all students, because, as studies done some years ago pointed out, teacher expectations can have a strong influence in getting better results from students at least some of the time. This tells us that we should not write a student off too quickly as being unable to make the grade. There may be cases though, where nothing seems to work.

    What do we do then? I think we should test such students extensively to see what their intellectual capabilities are, see if they have any physical or mental disabilities that are impeding them, and perhaps get them more intensive one-on-one instruction. The problem with this approach is that we barely want to spend the money we already allocate to education, in my opinion, so finding more money/resources is a hard sell to school boards and the public. It’s almost like we believe in “educational Darwinism”, which is akin to “social Darwinism”. Those who can learn will learn, with whatever amount of education we give them, and the devil take the hindmost. I submit we don’t really care about education as much as we claim we do in the USA. We are not an intellectually oriented society, in my opinion. We care more about sports, drinking, and gambling than we do about education.

    Lastly, teachers are easy targets, which are easily made into scapegoats when students don’t do well. I agree there are some teachers that are ineffective. In my own educational life, I had many great teachers, a few pretty good teachers, and one or two “so-so” teachers. I learned a lot from all of them, but I think I learned more from the “great” teachers, the ones who were passionate about teaching and about what they taught. In the end, that passion may be the most important service they provide, because it’s often contagious.

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