Teaching in America
Ended up here after reading a post on a Middle School Chatboard. I'd just like to express a few opinions and ask for a little feedback.
First of all, while I have only been teaching 3 years in a public school system, I consider myself a veteran of teaching and helping others. My own children, while raised in a home just barely above the poverty level, are successful. I have no doubt that while they are not all three academically gifted, not a single one of them will fail in living a good responsible, productive life.
I quit my job in the public sector and borrowed money to return to college for a teaching degree, hoping that I could make a difference in the lives of so many children who need an adult that will help them to succeed - to become the best person they can. I am certain that I have helped some children to learn more about math, some children to learn to read, some children to love science, and others to focus on organizing themselves so that they can just function a little better in our society. Every individual child that has come into my classroom is welcomed with open arms and is expected to work hard to succeed. There are really no excuses, although many of my students have home lives that would make getting up each day and carrying on life very difficult.
You seem to work very hard at trashing today's education system and teaching as a profession in general. I wonder if your education was extremely difficult, or you were just exposed to a school system that did not support learning. Most of the teachers that I have encountered care about children and their education. We purchase many of our own supplies and spend countless hours trying to find ways to reach every student in our classrooms. Possibly, you could for a moment stop the blame game and put your money where your mouth is. Walk a few miles in my shoes. If you come up with some real answers, I'll be the first to line up and buy your book. Are you willing to join us in the trenches? Does improving education really mean that much to you, or is it easier to stand behind a website and point fingers? If it is important enough to dedicate all this talk to, certainly it would be worth giving up your day job to improve. I did. Maybe you'll be the person who can really make a difference.
Reply from Daniel B. Jeffs, founder:
April 26, 2004
Dear Karen Hester,
Thank you for your thoughtful letter of concerns about "Teaching in America." Surely you should be commended for your efforts in raising your children under difficult circumstances and for your dedication as a public school teacher. I have no complaints against teachers such as you who struggle to make a difference in children's lives. To the contrary, I admire those who make the sacrifice under the adverse conditions confronting students, teachers, public schools and society.
However, I am deeply concerned about what has become of the education in America. It is not the teachers, but the elite education establishment, teacher unions and education administrations who subverted the system and replaced real education with reckless experimentation, self-serving social indoctrination and ignorance. Indeed, the long term deterioration of education has simply robbed generations of students of their education and left them functionally illiterate. Most teachers are not a fault because they were denied the fundamentals needed for teaching, exacerbated by teacher colleges that fail teaching students when they teach them how to teach without teaching them what to teach.
Though I understand your frustration, please do not assume that I stand behind a website, simply pointing fingers and playing blame games. My wife and I graduated from high school at about the time the education system first began its decline. We personally experienced that deterioration while struggling to assist our three children through their education years, determined to help by teaching them core fundamentals they were not receiving in the public education system. Thankfully, they are all successful in their personal and working lives.
I have been in the trenches helping adults and children most of my life through the full spectrum of the criminal justice system and I have witnessed what social extremes and the failures of education have wrought on society. As a community college instructor for a number of years, I was troubled by the ignorance of high school graduates and their lack of communication skills. I spent many extra hours helping my students improve those skills.
I'm still in the trenches in my day job and by communicating with and helping many high school and college students through the website, which is used by political science and government teachers in their assignments for student research projects regarding democracy. And I have been involved with special projects in our local school district
Again, thank you for your interest and dedication to educating children. We need more of you in the trenches of education and democracy.
Daniel B. Jeffs, founder
The Direct Democracy Center