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  • Morning Bell: Do You Wish You Could Choose Your Child's Teacher?

    Back-to-school season can be emotional for parents.  As Johnny enters a new grade level, it’s one more reminder that not too many Septembers from now it will be time to help him move into the dorm, not just pack his lunch for the day. Parents can, understandably, feel a little sentimental and sad about their children growing up too fast.

    But that emotion pales in comparison to the angst parents feel about who their child’s teacher will be. A good teacher can make a dramatic difference in a child’s life. A good teacher begins to open the world’s wide horizon for a child, shedding light into the child’s small sphere of reference. A good teacher grounds a child in solid knowledge and builds understanding, equipping him with the tools of learning. A good teacher builds a child’s confidence to expand his learning and explore his world.

    On the other hand, an apathetic teacher who takes little interest in her subject or her students’ lives can stifle children’s innate spirit of learning—or worse, create an aversion to education. The course of a student’s life often depends largely on his teachers.

    Yet, as important as this their influence is, most Americans have no say in choosing their child’s teacher. Parents don’t have a choice when it comes to their child’s education, despite the fact their tax dollars pay for the public schools, and their children’s futures are at stake.

    Parents in Los Angeles are getting some new transparency about their children’s schools this week.  The Los Angeles Times recently released the names of 6,000 elementary teachers and data showing how much each teacher’s students improved on standardized tests.

    The strong message is that public schools and their teachers should be accountable to parents and other taxpayers. That’s a stark contrast to the status quo, in which education policy is most responsive to decisions of those who hold the government purse strings and the power of union collective bargaining.

    The L.A. Times’ release of the evaluation data has education unions fuming.  Their ostensible criticism is that the method used to compare the scores is questionable.  But their historical reluctance to embrace accountability to parents suggests other motives.

    Measures like those in L.A. that increase transparency and accountability to parents are positive developments and welcome alternatives to initiatives like the national standards that the Obama administration is promoting. With hardly any public debate, states are signing on to the plan that will make schools more accountable to bureaucrats in Washington, and decrease their responsiveness to the parents whose children they teach.

    Ultimately policy needs to go beyond just informing parents about their children’s education. Parents should have the power to act on that information by choosing a school that meets their child’s unique learning needs. That’s the ultimate educational accountability.

    That’s why it’s so disappointing that the Obama administration and Congress have failed to support the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides scholarships to about 1,500 low-income students in the nation’s capital. Unions oppose the scholarships, even though they help needy children escape ineffective and often dangerous schools in Washington, D.C.

    We can and should expect more of American education. Empowering parents is the most pressing education reform. Just ask the millions of American waving goodbye to their children this morning, hoping they’ll hear this afternoon how much they’ve learned from their teachers today.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    77 Responses to Morning Bell: Do You Wish You Could Choose Your Child's Teacher?

    1. MJF, CT says:

      I agree that the teachers should be accountable but in today's unionized environment, that will never happen. It is up to us, the parents, to keep Little Johnny interested and properly educated. It is our job as parents to see to it that we "fill in the blanks" as best we can. We cannot be the "nannies" for the schools, we have to be PARENTS for our children.

    2. Ken Jarvis - Las Veg says:

      Morning Bell – I wish ALL Schools provided

      excellent education for ALL Students,

      and ALL Students WANTED TO LEARN.

      The HF is blaming the wrong group

      the STUDENTS HAVE TO WANT TO LEARN.

    3. Lisa Dale, Nashville says:

      Sadly, this year we've removed our children and enrolled them into a private Christian school due to the inability of Metro to educate our little ones. When we had our children tested at DCA, they scored badly in comparison to levels that DCA's students scored in the same age groups. Plus, our 12 year old was brutally abused on a daily basis (bullying) at the local school that we had to home school him (unsuccessfully) last year. This new commitment is going to cost us $500,000 by the time all three kids graduate high school. How is this fair? My retirement funds are now being shuffled entirely into education that my local government was supposed to be responsible for. Now I will have nothing to live on when I'm 65. It's a truly sad day in America, if you ask me.

    4. Becky F., Hicksville says:

      Ken, students will want to learn when they have parents that care about, and are involved in, their education, and when they have teachers that can motivate and inspire them to learn. It all comes down to the adults in their lives. If they are still not learning when the adults in their lives are doing the best that they can, then the responsibility falls on their shoulders.

    5. MAN, Texas says:

      This problem has been ongoing for over 50 years. Had parent been paying the attention to what was going on in their children's schools that they should have, we would not have had the present incumbent elected to the White House. And we would not have a population ignorant of what is in our Constitution, and just how it is designed to work.

    6. Dennis Georgia says:

      I agree with Ken from Las Vegas to a great extent. The children must want tyo learn. The teachers must want to teach. It all comes down to the parents and what they want for their children. Learning starts at home, discipline also stars at home. Today it seems parents do not teach their children anything, and most do not discipline, so this bleeds over in the class room. Parents have become afraid to teach or discipline for fear of going to jail, or Family and Childrens services taking them away. I blame lots of these problems on the teachers. They have told the children that the nparents can not spank, that to do so is abuse. Spanking is not abuse, and hitting does not teach hitting. Spanking teaches that actions cause re-actions. Do bad get a re-action. I do agree some children do not need spanking, talking will do as good or better. This does not work with all children. I also believe that some of the teachers are burned out due to the children in their classes, they have no controll, and often times let these children destroy the calss. the unions NEA, will protect them, demand high salaries, and benefits. The school board can not fire or write them up for fear of offending the unions. This has to cahnge, the teachers must be accountable for the classes, the progress of the students, BUT FIRST THE PARENTS MUST BE INVOLVED IN ALL THAT HAPPENS.

    7. Freddel, Walnut Cree says:

      The teacher's value added to childrens' development should be a primary consideration in employment, pay, and promotion considerations. If students enter a grade with measured verbal, reading, math etc. skills and the teacher raises the scores of his/her students 1-1/2 grade levels over the school year, then the teacher has exceeded expectations and should be rewarded. Consideration can be given for teachers who have students with learning disabilities, But the main concept should be to reward teachers who perform well, and dismiss teachers who aren't benefitting their students or doing their jobs.

    8. DONNA M ZAPPIN says:

      Your article on your child's teacher made me think of a story about my daughter.

      In Kinder Garden she decided what first grade teacher she wanted. Sadly, she was given a teacher that was boring. The first day i requested a class change but was told that space needed to be held for children who might be registering late. Humm..

      Why was my daughter being penalized for a late student? I went into the school every morning… for at least two weeks. We were required to have a talk with the psychologist. They gave me the option of putting her in a another class and when I asked to interview the teacher, they were shocked. I had two older kids in the system and knew that this was not the teacher for my daughter. So, I went back to visiting the principal each day. My daughter was very upset. One day on the play ground she went up to the Principal, tugged on his coat..looked up and said," Mr. Grant, I have to be in Ms. Lang's class. She is a good teacher and I can learn better in that class." She got her wish.

      This was in 1991. My daughter is an excellent student and working on her masters. This little lesson was huge in the scheme of things. It taught her to fight for what she wants and needs and not be afraid. It is a shame that it takes this much work and persistence to get what we are paying for. I am so glad all of my four children, college grads, are out of the public school system. It was bad then but nothing compared to now. Our children are our countries greatest resource and they are being taught by teachers who can't be fired and only work half the time as most Americans and still complain.

      Donna Zappin

    9. Charlotte, KY says:

      Yes, of course, it's all the children's fault. We certainly can't blame the unions or the inept government that supports them.

      What is this country coming to?

    10. Jewel, Garner, NC says:

      My husband and I opted out of the public school system 6 years ago for the very issues this article is addressing. Also because of activist teachers, forced busing, sometimes for hours every day, various "social engineering" initiatives, and the general treatment by the school system that parents are incompetent to make cogent decisions for our children's educational benefit.

      Public school systems are in grave condition, not because of lack of funds, but because of the socialist, activist, education they have been teaching for years……a stealth agenda that has left many children woefully uneducated about our real history and the value of freedom and instead instilled them with the ideology that the federal govt. must solve all our problems for us as we "the masses" of citizens are incompetent to take care of ourselves.

    11. Jo Lamoreaux, Washin says:

      As a retired teacher, I have an alternate view. I have met too many parents who want little Johnny to get A's for showing up; who pull kids out of school for hair cuts, movie premiers, or to watch younger siblings; and who told me if their child wasn't doing well it was because the work was too hard.

      Parents are the first and best teachers. Their attitudes either encourage and empower learning, or denigrate and disregard it. That makes all the difference.

    12. Becky says:

      Honestly, the public schools fail on many counts and realistically, will never get better. We need free enterprise in education to improve schools, not a government monopoly that insists on more and more money when it has been proven OVER AND OVER, that more money doesn't improve education.

      It costs the local schools almost $8000 per student and rising and yet, students are not any better prepared to enter college. Homeschool families can do it with a couple of hundred dollars and produce better students and better adults.

      Dumbing Us Down: the Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

      By John Taylor Gatto should be required reading by all adults. It might just help them see it isn't such a great entitlement program after all.

    13. Ben C. Ann Arbor, MI says:

      At last Ken got something right. Yes, students must want to learn rather than being force fed. Every educator that I have talked with has stated that the students who excel are those who have involved parents. Therein lies the core of the problem – the breakdown of the family unit. It is this dynamic that has created most of our social and economic problems. And it is this dynamic that the 'left" should be most proud because it has been their agenda that has resulted in our current decay. How is socialism working for you?

    14. jim smith, yonkers, says:

      Just maybe four or five of those bloviated morons in our congress could visit one of those "dangerous schools" in the DC area. They could share a cab, draw straws to see which one has to actually get out of the cab, be back in ten minutes and then all go out to an $800 lunch. At the end of the month, they all put for the lunch, a scant $4000. That twinge you feel is the budget office approving this expense while the umbrella is now being opened.

    15. Jeanne Stotler, Wood says:

      I disagree with Ken, children want to learn. Learning has to be interesting, the kids I watch before and after school are wanting to learn, we talk about history and I try to make it appear real to them. Infants want to learn that is why they mimic others. Since the kids I watch 4 out of 5 mothers are teachers I also hear their views, they have to teach what the school board says and it's more emphases(sp) on test scores than on the amount the student really learns. I also agree it is up to parents to fill in the blanks, encourage reading and in this area for particular, take kids to sites like Mt. Vernon, Gettysburg, Williamsburg etc. let them see this is rel not just a story in a book. Jamestown, Yorktown, Plymouth, Alamo I could go on, I am not just talking, I took my kids to these places, they have seen the Liberty Bell been to the Archives. Parents are the best teachers, but don't blame the teachers for what they DON'T teach blame the school board and unions.

    16. Del Curtis, Williams says:

      To Ken Jarvis,

      Children have an avid desire and tendency to learn from birth. The only thing that can change that is teachers who really don't have a clue about how to teach and if they do, the system will soon destroy that by mandating from government boards what and how to teach.

      The government schools are the worst places for children to learn. The teaching of children remains the responsibility of the parents. Any others who are given this task should be operating in loco parentis — In the place of and under the authority of the parents.

      The best instruction for children is being taught in the home by the parents.– it is custom designed for each child and respective of the child's natural learning desires.

      The next best instruction for children is being taught in private schools that believe they are there to serve the parents in the teachng of the children. And, if your preference is instruction from a biblical worldview, the best alternative to home teaching is the private Christian school.

    17. Michele Ochs, San An says:

      Having had a few really bad teachers, I pulled my son out of the system and started homeschooling. What a wonderful decision this has been for both of us. I am lucky that I am able to do so. He has learned more in the last six months than he did the entire year in public school. No more falling through the cracks because there are too many students int he classroom.

    18. Mike Miller, Peoria says:

      We do choose our children's teacher. She's known around the house as "Mom."

    19. DiAnne Walberg, Minn says:

      First of all, parents should not expect the school system(s) to raise their children. The parents must take an active interest in their child's willingness to learn. This not meant to be a sweeping generalization, however I've seen many single parents and mothers AND fathers take an active interest in their child's education. It makes a huge difference.

      Second, if Mr. Obama expects the taxpayers to shoulder the burden of funding the unions, then the taxpayers have every right to hold the educators accountable. Those educators MUST BE reviewed on an ongoing basis via their classes test scores, attitudes, etc.

    20. Ronald Court, Vermon says:

      With educational choice and charter schools, teachers CAN be made accountable. To learn how, read Dr. Ben Chavis' book, "Crazy Like a Fox." He turned one of the worst performing middle schools in Oakland CA into one of the best.

      He is an American Indian (North Carolina Lumbee tribe).

      His approach, dubbed "AIM to Educate" (American Indian Method to Educate) works… even with the very economically and socially 'disadvantaged' population.

      I know, I was there for 4 days and saw it in action. check it out: AIPCS.org

    21. Lloyd Scallan (New O says:

      For once in my life time I agree with Ken Jarvis. "You can led a horse to water, but you can't make it drink" is so true. We can waste our tax dollars paying for super schools, the best book, free meals, and everything else that make going to school a much more pleasant experience. But without the desire of students to want to learn, we're spitting into the wind.

      However, in today's schools, students are overly exposed to radical left, unqualified teachers that are protected by unions. These "teachers" knowingly

      use rewritten history and radical views that contradict what many students have

      been taught at home. This discourages many student from wanting to learn because they are in continuous inter conflict. Therefore it boils down to the parent. If the parent wants quality education for their childern, they must get totally involved with the competence of the teachers, the schools, and what their

      childern are being taught.

    22. GDRN, FL says:

      If you want American education to be great again, you must go back to where you lost it. That means going back to local schools controlled by local people – parents – at the local level. State and Federal control of schools has been a huge spawning ground for problems, waste, corruption, and control of the minds of America's future, – our children. Sometimes going back is actually better than moving forward.

    23. Robert says:

      Compare this to the Keller, TX schools that recently announced that students will no longer be penalized for turning in assignments late. Students in Keller, TX

      will be able to turn in work up to two weeks late without penalty or consequence.

      Students will only be graded on the "quality" of their work. I bet you can't wait to hire one of these gems!

    24. Richard Cancemi, Arl says:

      You mentioned "good teachers" and "apathetic teachers" affecting childrens' lives. What you didn't mention are the "indoctrinating teachers" who fill our childrens' minds with Progressive Socialist thought. They are the truly dangerous ones that infect our school systems from kindergarten through graduate school. Parents need to be concerned about this too!

    25. KC - New Mexico says:

      Good article on our country’s education issues. Yes, there are great and terrible teachers along with a lot of teachers who want to do well but have little guidance or are held back by the darn union. The first step in fixing our country’s education system is to get rid of the unions!

      As a parent, we can find the right teachers for our children but it takes a lot of banging on the systems doors and making demands. When the local public system becomes unresponsive, try the charter school movement. I found that even working with the state department of education was ineffective. But finally working with a charter school, my child was able to re-establish his self concept, re-gain some lost or inadequate skills in reading, writing, and math, and generally obtain an education experience that he would not have received in the larger public education system.

      As parents, we can make a difference by voting in those representatives at both the state and national level who have solutions about education. Political members can help but bottom line we need the expertise from both industry and education leaders to change this system. The unions won’t like the changes and I expect them to cry to the democratic left for sympathy and support. Even in my great state, our incumbent democratic candidate for governor has no idea of what to do or how to possibly improve the education system in NM.

    26. Bill Aravada, CO says:

      Look at what else they are teaching in our schools today……….

      Obama Adm. Uses Child-Indoctrinating Socialist to Promote Illegal’s Pay Program

    27. Randall Holland, Ari says:

      What will improve our public school systems is to return the authority and money to the states and local districts. Get the federal government out of education.

      Return our school system to the basics of reading writing and arithmetics. Return respect and discipline. Restore order to a child's life.

      After 40+ years of politically correct (PC) education which has failed our children, we must get back to what really works.

    28. Phil, Pearland, Texa says:

      To Ken, I agree completely, children need to want to learn. One of the ways that children develop that want/willingness to learn is by having parents and teachers that encourage learning. Too often we read about parents that are disconnected from the schools and from their children's learning experience. And we are constantly bombarded by stories of poor teachers that continue to stay in our schools because of the protection of tenure or unions who do not have the best interest of our children first on their agenda.

    29. Jay, Spokane, Wa says:

      First I am not a teacher, but know many good teachers. While I agree with your general premise. Your article followed the same path as the general talk in political circles and picked on the easy targets totally missing major problems that affect the future of our kids.

      The students themselves lack any accountability for their success. There are no real consequences for not participating, doing home work, and generally disrupting the classes. Children are no longer held back for failing to meet standards for the next grade level. So lack of foundation is passed on to the next level. Each year they move up they lack more required skills to participate at a functional level. These students eventually drop out in many cases.

      The root cause is two fold, institutional and parental. Parents are too quick to stand up for the comfort and short termed happiness of their child rather than make the hard choice to ensure that their children actually do the sometimes hard work to prepare for the real joy of success. The school system would rather play along rather than risk a law suit from parents that don't want their child to suffer any type of perceived humiliation.

      So now the easy target is make the teachers accountable for generalized test scores of their students. It sounds reasonable until you look at the make up of some of these classes. Of a class of 25 students, 16% have special needs, 30% lack the skills to work at the class level, 24% are delinquent to varying degrees and are there to cause trouble more than learn. How much time do you think these groups take from the teacher working with the remaining 30%?

      Charter schools work because they can apply consequences and keep these problems from the classroom.

      Changes need to be made but there are much bigger changes than need to be addressed than the teachers alone. Teachers need to have an opportunity to be successful. That is the major motivator of most people.

    30. ???????????????? says:

      A healthe seinor here , your type is tooo small in your opening page lead in and basically your lay- out is flat -dead with nothing that pulls the reader in to want to read. I read because of the HERITAGE NAME AND LOGO.

      CONCERNED CONSERTATIVE AMERICAN PATRIOT

      ROBERT

    31. Sal says:

      I am divorced and and re-married. My two boys new stepdad is wonderful and provides an excellent example of how to treat a woman. Their biological father always has loved our two boys. So….I live in an urban area where liberals are a dime a dozen, including the teachers. Elementary school was good, but once they hit middle school and high school, the liberal teachers seemed to come out of the woodwork. One in particular had zero tolerance for conservatives and my youngest is just that. After many debates with the "zero tolerance teacher" (not debate class mind you, no money for English electives), and his grades reflecting that of zero tolerance for a differing answer, he was told that "Ronald Reagan had nothing to do with the fall of the Berlin Wall", I kid you not. He debated that of course, provided specifics and the teacher yelled at him, "You're one of those teabaggers!" After a conference with the School City Superintendent and the Principal – we were told, "We understand your concerns but there is nothing we can do, our hands are tied." Again, I kid you not. After being threatened to be killed by other students, "If Barack Obama loses the election", enough was enough. He now lives with his biological father in another state in a rural section. What a difference!!!!! He is happy, kicking butt and taking names, already representing his new state with FBLA in Impromptu Speech! Most families don't have this option, and I feel so badly for them because I know how troublesome and unfair it all is. In my families experience, it was zero tolerance of logical debate from teachers and students, and feigned concern (but really apathy) from the administration.

    32. Paul Bakersfield, CA says:

      The DOE won't put up with this for long. The DOE is not interested in your child or their well being, or their education either.

      "The course of a student’s life often depends largely on his teachers.".

      You are right.

      More parents need to do what my wife and I have done for years now, homeschool your children !! The curriculum is available and inexpensive. Our children are well rounded and love being home schooled. My son graduated a year early and is now in college doing great. My daughter will likely graduate a year early too and is planning to go to college. And I get to teach them MY values.

      Make the sacrifice, make a difference, homeschool.

    33. Norbert, Ohio says:

      I disagree with Mr. Jarvis. There are plenty of kids who want to learn but lack the opportunity. The Black Community in D.C. should be up in arms about this infringement on their right to choose.

    34. Susan Shumway Phoeni says:

      I love how people make these comments about schools and classroom teachers when they have never once been in a classroom today and seen how much a teacher has to do with little or no help. I was a teacher until I could no longer take the pressure. I had 2 grades,28 students, and $100 to run my classroom on. It was a K-1. Every teacher that I saw worked their tails off. The constant second guessing at every turn. The more and more expectations with no added resources.

      I spent almost a $1000. of my own money on my classroom because I wanted my little ones to have the best. My contract was for 15,000. That was in 1998. I really think the problem is not the teachers but there is too much money spent on the surrounding folks in the district. A superintendent makes over a 100,000. The problem is that the public does not know what it takes to be a teacher in today's world. It is very very difficult. Oh, and don't tell me, well, you get 3 months off. You really don't. You have to take classes to keep up and you have to prepare constantly. The only time I could rest was a Friday night and by Sat. night I was starting to prepare again . The children are funny and sweet most of the time but the parents are allot of the problem.

      Mrs. Shumway

    35. Lyle, Twin Falls, Id says:

      I admire the fortitude and overall standing of the Heritage Foundation! Education, rather has become indoctrination of thought and lifestyle hence culture. How do American Christians (I DO mean believing, studying the Word of God Christians, not milk drinkers) today figure that you will receive something different from the what the government teaching what the government believes. The government by the big majority of Americans is TRUSTED; you BAAAAAD! God gave us each the ability to read the Word; to double check the Pastor, to keep him on the path, the narrow way. Then we begin our day in the world of the world and for the world, instead of the thought of using Biblical Standards to live our life by. The government is currently by the devil for the devil all about the devil; you do remember that he has possession of the earth, due to Adam and Eve, right? Government Education IS NOT the way; we the citizens should demand it on the Federal level disbanded, disfunded etc.

      Pick the Gospel that your children will recieve; if they receive two Gospels will they not love the one master and in return hate the other; so which Master will they embrace?!

      Real Christian parents should at no time embrace Government/Public Education unless of coarse they believe that their childrens eternal future is uncomprimisable.

    36. Jim from New Jersey says:

      I had an interesting conversation with 2 gentlemen that share my first name about the education process. Both gentlemen have doctorates and are well respected in each of their professional communities. Both, through casual conversation, noted that the teaching profession had lost it's excitement. Their reason was that the bureaucracy had loaded so many mandates into and onto the teaching profession that teachers didn't have time to teach! There are only so many hours in a day and everything that an elementary teacher must, by law, cover, is monumental. If we add into this mix a dysfunctional family or neighborhood for that matter, the teachers job becomes that of a counselor as well. Hungry students? The teacher becomes the provider. Learning disabilities? Language barriers? The list can go on and on… While I agree that teachers should be held accountable, I also believe parents should be held accountable as well. A student is influenced by many things during their developmental school years. The number one impact, in my opinion, is the family. I think a teacher will never be able to compete with the culture of learning that is developed in the child's home. This is a complex problem with many different aspects that need to be addressed. For the record, I am a teacher and I am not a union member.

    37. Florida mom of two says:

      Parents do have a choice and simply need to make the difficult decision to either give up luxuries so that their children can attend private school, look into online alternatives (or demand them if they are not available) or do as I do and homeschool your children. The problem is these are sacrifices that few are willing to make and THAT is the real tragedy. Yes, public schools need reform, they are deplorable and we should continue demand that our schools be raised to create free thinking, creative, innovative and knowledgeable individuals who can propel this country forward so that it will remain the most prosperous culture in the world. BUT, in the meantime, those who recognize that the education system is severely lacking are remiss in sending their children there despite this fact. I wish more articles would point out parents that they do have the power to change their children's future rather than point out how "helpless" we are regarding our education system.

    38. Dave Provo, UT says:

      I am in complete agreement with Ken Jarvis, yes Ken I know it is a shock. But as a 40 year veteran teacher he has nailed it. When I had a class in which most of the students wanted to learn, they would drain me and make me work twice as hard to provide them with every opportunity to learn. When I got a class that was dominated by the unwilling and uninterested they drained me in a negative way. And when certain black hole students didn't show up, my teaching experience was a joy. There are poor teachers but many more frustrated teachers who have to spend much of their time trying to motivate students.

    39. Dan Hogan, CA says:

      Yes, HF is wrong on this one. They are assuming we teachers have total control over all aspects of a students life. We are only 50% of the equation. We have zero control over the other 50% of the student's home life and the baggage they often carry with them including lousy parenting, negative home life, substance abuse, poverty, bad neighborhoods, television, music, the internet, high divorce rates, and all the other negative ascepts of our culture that impact a student's progress in education.

      No standarized test can even begin to accurately measure these factors.

    40. KC - New Mexico says:

      Susan in Phoenix – right on! I'm a retired teacher in NM – you know the state that gives drivers licences to the illegals! Anyway, our school systems are loaded at the top with high paid individuals who never are in the classroom. It is not just the administration but it is all the other services that are never helping the students. Our schools are really messed up – we even have a high school that has not been able to give 1200 students their schedules for this year! The teachers here do work hard and want to be successful and turn out a good result for their students. The problem is the union interaction, wasted money from the state and education system, many parents who do not care and their kids who do not care, and our taxes pay for them eventually. Systemic change is needed – it will not be easy and many will complain – but change is needed – not by politicians since they do not have a clue – but by leaders in industry and education and retired teachers who demand a better system!

    41. Judith in Michigan says:

      The biggest problem here starts with Parents.

      My daughter is an inner-city middle school teacher,in a midwestern city, Has been for 18 years and still loves what she is doing. Sure, the kids have to want to learn, but how can that be fostered when the parents can't speak well, can't read, are unable to write well, and do not respect authority themselves? Over the years, she has actually had students return and thank her for helping them achieve. She has filled in where parents failed.

      Some of her students over the years were already "parolees" with police records. She has been attacked in the school room, and threatened by parents. And if 2 or 3 parents show up at a conference, my daughter calls that a successful event. She usually has 60 to 80 students each season.

      Parents MUST also be held accountable for their actions, or lack of actions in the education of their kids. Then we might make progress in teaching Johnny & Suzie to become well-educated and responsible adult citizens.

    42. Al.D,Sewickley,PA, 1 says:

      50 years of compensatory education have failed to close the demographic

      gaps.The children of the millions of low-skilled migrants allowed in to take

      low-wage jobs at employer profit, lag far behind in attainment. Los An-

      geles spends $30,000/year/pupil in some of its districts, but the high-school

      drop-out rate is about 45%.

      The "taboo of inequality" forbids discussion of the importance of heredity

      as a crucial element in the ability to learn, magnifying thereby the role of

      the teacher. But if this is wrong, are we not in danger of importing a permanent

      underclass?

    43. Rich says:

      As a public educator I must warn you of the reality of how this will work out. The "excellent teachers may simply be those who meet or excede the "standards" as determined by who ? The fed dept of education….controlled by ?. The best way to be certain that the thought police (with the assistance of the teachers union) will enforce the accepted "state "view nation wide is to adopt the national standards and pay teachers according to how well thier studentsmeet those standards. Aso one who has been fighting this in science education for decades I can say for certain that it will lead to standards that do not teach students how to think , but simply what to think to get a good grade. Teaching to the test is already routinely done. Independent thinking skills will be removed not by fighting against but by simply not rewardeing it in the multiple choice testing which will become the measure of all. Lincoln once said the philosophy in the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next. Applying that to this issue ……He who controls the tests in one generation will control the thinking in the next.

    44. Jim, May (by God), T says:

      The "Human Element" is ALWAYS involved, be it an occupation or profession. Anymore, I believe most teachers, oil rig employees, police, senators and congressmen are there for the money; its no longer "a Calling". The Buck does not stop with the teacher, it stops……….and starts with parent and child.

      Most of us begin our lives somewhat equal. However, eventually compromised integrity, work ethics, diligence and morals may be allowed to slip to the wayside without constant viligence from the HOG WITH THE BIG NUTS.

    45. Melvin Adams says:

      A timely article. Perhaps nothing is more important to us as families and a nation is our children… and what they learn. I read through the comments already added and found a common thread: parental involvement. I also saw some who chose to teach their children themselves or send them to private Christian schools. We should not be in such a sad state in America, but we are. As citizens we must take responsibility for what we have and take actions to lead us to a better America. There are many networks where we can collaborate together to see real change. One focus group is Renewanation… with a focus on improving the education of our children.

    46. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      If I had a child, which I don't, the answer is YES! If all teachers were like David Knox,

      Ralph Brown, and C. Paul Quimby, all teachers of mine in high school, then teachers

      wouldn't be retiring en masse without new teachers to replace them.

    47. Richard says:

      You know that things are not right when the former President of the American Federation of Teachers says, "When school children start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of school children."

    48. Gayle, West Palm Bea says:

      I believe parents need to be involved with their children's education. Help them with homework, and see that their homework is completed. Do not bad mouth a teacher in front of children. I work in a high school, have one child left in high school. No matter how I feel or what my opinion is of the teacher, I teach my son to respect them. TTeachers are the adults. I believe the lack of respect from students and parents towards teachers nowadays is shameful. What are parents going to do when the child goes to college? You can't pick ther professors. Or a job? You can't pick their bosses. Learn to cope, deal with it, and be respectful.

    49. Stan W. says:

      First, I am a proponent of the voucher system. I feel if we can't choose the teachers atleast we can choose the schools. Private schools and tuitions are indeed expensive. If all schools were the same, there would be no Harvard, John Hopkins, MIT, Cal Berkley. If money was no object and you could choose whatever school you wanted, would you not choose the best. Vouchers are as close as we'll get.

    50. CommonSense, Arvada, says:

      We are fortunate to be able to open-enroll at any school in the district. I also found that if you stand up to "counselors" (they don't counsel anything, they only create class schedules) and administrators, you can have your child moved to another teacher, I did it several times for my kids in high school.

      Our district also offers online courses, originally meant for summer school but now offered to everyone to enhance their education or graduate early.

      My argument to my daughter's "counselor" was that I didn't even have to have her in their school, I could pull her out and home school her for all or just specific classes or have her enroll online. He immediately gave in.

      You have to remember that you are the parent and as such have the ultimate authority over your child's education. Don't let the school make you feel like you've been sent to the principal's office like you're a student yourself. Stand up for your kids.

    51. Stacie, California says:

      I have found the best possible educator for my son, ME!!! Homeschooling allows for the best possible teacher. Public education is no longer about learning. It's about dumbing down the masses and indoctrination.

    52. gerald skey, princet says:

      When is it going to dawn on us that the single greatest influences on our children and their schooling are the Parents. Teachers can try and there are good and bad teachers. But Schools in areas where Parents are fully engaged in the education process will always achieve at a far greater rate than in areas where children are left to their own devices and where Parents fail. I am so sick and tired oh hearing about terrible teachers who have, at best, an hour or two with a child in a classroom of 30 other students. Regardless of what that teacher does or does not do, if the child is prepared for the coming day we will see achievement.

    53. Dee Oldman, Everson says:

      We are a conservative family. My husband is a high school history teacher..he can't stand the unions. One comment on testing:

      Teachers do not choose their classes. If a good teacher has a class of kids not on the path to college, the test scores are lower. And after 30 years, he has noted that these kids often have parents who don't get involved in their kids schooling, never attend teacher meetings on progress or help help their kids at home. He often will hear "That is your job". This attitude has increased since the 1980's when he began.

      Not every teacher is a Lib……….and we need to pray for the teachers who will teach the truth about our country's history before it is lost forever. A patriot

    54. Becky, PA says:

      I am homeschooling because I went to public school and know it is not a good place to grow up. Plus, I get to give myself a good education while teaching my children that I didn't get from public school. I am really enjoying learning while teaching and watching my children "get it". And I have "ten year" at this and I'm not burned out.

    55. Geppetto, NC says:

      This is an example of the plague so characteristic of the Nanny State. Local Boards of Education are only too glad to offload their responsibility for this onto the broad, incompetent but welcoming shoulders of the Federal Government allowing locals to shirk that responsibility and sanctimoniously subject all future, bothersome citizen complaints (it’s not my job) to the proverbial, federal bureaucratic Catch 22; "you can't get there from here." And they will no doubt feel perfectly justified during the next budget cycle as they plead their case calling for more money to solve whatever problems they can conjure up in support of whatever the cause as the efficacy of our education system continues to decline.

      Dependency is a human condition that, after childhood, can only be overcome if replaced with personal responsibility, an inculcated desire to be free and a culture that extols that virtue. The foundations of that ethic are being gradually destroyed by a growing list of entitlements, a concerted effort by government to perpetuate that childhood condition of dependency by replacing personal with government responsibility and a culture anticipating a hand out rather than a hand up. This transfer of responsibility by local Boards of education is based on the same premise.

    56. Jim Spindler, Mequon says:

      Parents should make decisions regarding the schooling of their children and should be able to intelligently select the source format or style of that education. That means choices must be available – public and private. To make such decisions, information is needed about the educational institutions and their staffs. Hence, transparency is needed. Unions should welcome such a philosophy if they are truly interested in the quality of education.

      It also means that responsibility for our education system(s) needs to be close to the users – parents – not in Washington DC. It also means that Washington should not be controlling local and state educational systems by denying federal funds unless Washington's dictates are met. Reduce taxes at federal levels and let each state and community decide on the funding required to satisfy their users.

      Obviously, it means parents and local communities need to be responsible and accountable. Let us encourage programs to make parents and local communities aware of their responsibilities and not take the responsibility away from them by pre-empting their responsibilities.

    57. Paul Bakersfield, CA says:

      @Susan Shumway Phoenix Az, and all the other teachers like her.

      You are the exception. And you are not the problem. The problem is the bureaucrasy that "supports" you. We are tired of other people telling us what is best for our children. A few years ago we had a Superintendent of Schools make a public statement to the press that "homeschooling is illegal and homeschooling parents are abusing their children." Now, as a parent how would you respond to that? I respond with contempt !! First of all, he's wrong on both counts. Secondly, he's an idiot because the smallest class size is one parent with one child.

      Someone else said parents need to be held accountable. Sure, but have you heard what they do to parents who discipline their children these days? Have you teachers been given any "guidance" on where the line is here (so you don't get sued)? Please !!

      I'll give you the answer. Get the damn government off our backs and out of our pockets and we parents will do the job ourselves!!

    58. Billie says:

      for the first time I agree with Ken Jarvis up until he cuts down Hheritage. I agree with all those who know human minds have a natural desire to learn unless of course they're misguided (starting at the pre-k government mandate..).

      Background checks on anyone with a job (paid at tax payers expense) in government, should be at the peoples (parents) fingertips…

    59. Deb, Michigan says:

      If vouchers are not going to happen, then all K-12 education should be privatized. It is not okay for parents to have to pay twice to get quality.

    60. Mai says:

      I am a Kindergarten teacher and just started my 27th year. Needless to say, teaching and education in general have changed quite a bit since I started. Teachers are not the problem. Students are not the problem. Parents are not the problem. It's more a combination of things. Where I teach, I have to do cash receipts for lunch money, picture money, fund raiser money, field trip money (getting the idea here) and whatever else comes in before I can actually teach. I can't ask my assistant (who may or may not have two years of college or any experience working with young children or tutoring them in phonics or whatever our emphasis may be) to run papers more than once a week, or laminate, or put things out in the hall for me. But this assistant works with the students while I'm doing paperwork (cash receipts, reports, etc.). Instructional time is interrupted for pictures, assemblies for fund raisers, boy/girl scouts, etc. I'm trying my best to teach Johnny to read, regardless of what anyone thinks. And then I have parents who complain because I don't have time for them to come in and read several times a week. I'm sorry, truly, but you can't have it both ways. Leave me alone and let me teach.

      And, yes, I can see where some parents would like to have the option to choose their teacher. However, are they choosing because they feel he/she is an excellent teacher based on personal knowledge or because the neighbors liked him/her or thought he/she was really good (or really bad).

      Basing our pay on student performance is a stupid idea. For some children, it doesn't matter if I stood on my head and performed all day, unless they are held accountable for their own learning (actually study for that test, okay?), there is no reason to do well unless they just happen to be highly motivated to do so. Fail the test? How about you repeat that grade and see if you can do better next time around? Then, and only then, should a teacher be paid based on a child's performance on a standardized test.

      Oh, and Jim, there are still quite a number of us who feel this is a calling. We most certainly do not go into education (teaching, anyway) for the money. We could make far more doing just about anything else.

      Education is an easy target and teachers get very tired of being behind that bulls eye. Responsibility belongs to everyone – parents, teachers, and students.

    61. Ann - Delaware says:

      I teach (private school) and am one of the teachers who gets "requested" – I have 43 years experience. There are parents who demand their child be placed in my higher level class in order to have me and I know their child can not handle the work. That is going to lower the achievement level for that class. Example: last year my AP students averaged 4.7 out of 5 on the AP Exam. This year, that unqualified child will score no more than a 2, lowering the overall average ov the class Teachers need to be able to defend themselves in those situations.

    62. Phillip Hermes, New says:

      Your Opinion on the Los Angeles teacher performance coverup, “Teachers for Coverup” 2 Sep10, misses the point. The point is, “Why should the teachers be graded on outcomes (student scores on tests) controlled by parents?” There is an old saying that “School performance is limited by the families in the school district”. The root cause of poor school performance is that, in poorly performing school districts, over 2/3rds of the Black babies and ½ of the Hispanic babies are born out of wedlock. This is the big white elephant in the tent that no one wants to talk about. Normal parents teach children to read, write and do math problems. They prepare their children for school and reinforce the school teachings when the children attend school. They develop the interpersonal responsibilities in the children which enable discipline in the classroom. All this does not occur with single moms. Thus, the teachers cannot teach disruptive students who are not motivated to learn. What our society needs to improve schools (and to reduce poverty and violence) is a “Stop the Stud” program. No city can survive the above metrics.

    63. Mike Holland, Massac says:

      Unfortunately, looking at how well one teacher's students do on a standardized test and comparing those results to the results on another teacher's students tells you nothing at all about the quality of the teacher.

      Consider the scenario of one teacher who has an overcrowded class of students comprised of students with learning disabilities, emotional disabilities, students who are cronically in trouble with the law, and about 5% parental involvement. Across town another teacher has a small class of honors level students with 100% parental involvement. Do you really think judging each teacher's ability by their students' standardized test scores is fair? The teacher with the students who have to overcome all sorts of obstacles may be doing a far better job just getting those students to achieve graduation while squeaking by on their standardized tests.

    64. Amelia Wasiluk says:

      I could not agree with this article anymore than I advocate homeschooling for mature parents who truly care about their children.

      Yes. I choose my children's teachers and they pick their subject of interest. It works great!

      I do not know that many parents would willing to go through what I did in the process, but I tell you, it sure is worth it! But then again, if you start up on a solid foundation and not let any one sway you away from what you know is right then you succeed effortlessly.

      My two little ones thrive, most teachers/educators who meet and sometimes administer certain curriculum tests consider them geniuses when they are only normal children who do not follow the norm.

      I and my spouse spend a lot less money than if they were to go to a private school or even public school.

      I have discover and witness some serious flaws even with the best of Christian schools. Specifically in L.A., and in upper well to do neighborhoods, like Woodland Hills, and West LA. area.

      I see that our children are our best investments for their future and the future of this country. We cannot afford to let someone else steered them away from their interests and innate drive to learn and grow!

      Amelia

    65. DP, GA says:

      There is nothing so frustrating for a parent. Grades are not the only important matter – a child's confidence is destroyed by a poor teacher. My son had a terrible math teacher who took every opportunity to inform the class of his poor performance. I asked the school for a change and was refused. Not a surprise for me, since I was a teacher (another school) as well. I hired a private tutor, warning my son not to tell his teacher. My son went in one grading period from an F to an A student in math. His teacher took credit for his amazing achievement. Was it worth the money and effort? My son today is a mechanical engineer, has an MBA, and is a director of program management.

    66. Jim Thompson, Goose says:

      After reading several comments, I have to back my wife, a Life Certified Elementary Teacher with 39 years experience. In her view, "most students (90%) are eager to be taught and want to learn, and have parental involvement. However most public schools MAINSTREAM students with behavioral problems and these students can require much of a good teachers time to make sure class disruption is minimized"

      .

      Disruptive students steal teaching time. Bad parenting is the reason for most disruptive students. Put behavioral problem students in a Special School and you will have classroom success in the public schools. Somehow parents need to be made accountable.

    67. Rory S. Winton says:

      I agree that schools need to be held accountable. I come from a wonderful district that holds all of their teachers to the highest standards. There is one problem that keeps us from doing our job and that is when are we going to hold the parents to the same standards? Our students come to school hungry, dirty and deprived of attention and sleep. A child will do nothing for you until their basic needs are met. I have 28 kindergarten children in my classroom and many of them fit into what I just stated above. I do have some wonderful parents that do their job at home and it really makes a difference in their child's learning at school. We also are a very diverse nation of learners. I really don't believe in standardized testing, I do believe are children are much more then a score on a test. All I can say is that I give a 100% to every child every day.

    68. Sue says:

      Should I have children who are of school age (I am now 70 years old with kids reared and gone), I would choose their teacher: ME and my husband! I have said this since I graduated from high school in 1959, never wavering from this belief throughout my college and graduate school years.

      We could do a far better job teaching children true history, what the Constitution means to us today, moral values, social behavior, and even math and writing than I have seen teachers in government schools teach. I know: I worked off and on in government schools for years and my husband worked with the results of their educational failures.

      Sue

    69. Sue, Eckert, Colorad says:

      Had I children of school age (I am now 70 years old with kids reared and gone), I would choose their teachers: ME and my husband! I have said this since I graduated from high school in 1959, never wavering from this belief throughout my college and graduate school years.

      We could do a far better job teaching children true history, what the Constitution means to us today, moral values, social behavior, and even math and writing than I have seen teachers in government schools teach. I know: I worked off and on in government schools for years and my husband worked with the sorry results of their educational failures.

      Sue

    70. Michelle, New York says:

      My daughters elementary school i can choose what teacher i want for her upcoming year! Caring, exciting, loving teachers helps and encourages students a lot more!

    71. Barry from Plano says:

      If your child is truly gifted, then it's up to you, to place that child in an accelerated learning curriculum. All schools have these special classes. Don't blame the teachers.They not only have to educate your child, but they also have to parent that child because most parents won't. Teachers barely make enough money to live on. They have to buy much of thier own supplies,with thier own funds, as well as supplies for students whose families that don't have the money to support the child. Teachers today have to watch thier backs because of students who retaliate with violence. There is no corpural punishment in schools today, nor in many homes, so the child fgures, if there is no punishment, 'WHY NOT'. Many home burglaries are made by young adults, (students)on thier way to school. Students who are worthy of scholarships, are denied by district personnel, in favor of thier own families. When the economy is down, teachers are the first to be laid off, then fire and rescue personnel, then police. Don't blame the teacher. Raise your children to be decent adults. Look in the mirror, that's who you blame.

    72. Anita Dragoo, Coupev says:

      Having re-read the above comments, it's time to stop pointing fingers and realize that ALL participants in a child's education are responsible and should be held accountable. Are the parents teaching their children to respect others and holding them accountable to behave, cooperate, and participate in their classes? Are teachers preparing appropriate and interesting lessons, and do they give students feedback that helps them to improve? Do parents and teachers work with administrators to plan curriculum and behavioral standards? Are teachers and parents actively electing school board members that will support their concerns?

      In my 27 years of teaching, no superintendent or board member ever observed a class that I taught. Parents of students in most public schools have the means to elect board members that reflect their values. How many parents attend board meetings? How many parents spend time in the classroom observing not only the teacher, but the behavior of their own children and their friends?

      Although I am now retired, I am convinced that the reason school choice seems to work is this: parents who choose become involved. It isn't necessary to spend extra money for private schools, Just get involved in your public school. Get acquainted with the teachers and learn which ones are dedicated. Read your child's textbooks critically to assure yourself that your values are being taught.

      Finally, work as a team with the teachers and administrators. Some parents think their only involvement must be confrontational. But teams that fight among themselves seldom win.

    73. Centaur255, Purcellv says:

      Parent school choice (and teacher choice) is essential, but did you know that according to the Supreme Court the rights of parents end "at the school door"? I just spoke yesterday to a parent who lost her rights to visit her daughter at school. This needs to change.

    74. Bobbie says:

      It's too much of a choice. I would want to expect a proper education from all public educators and class sizes to be efficient.

    75. Kyla Brennan says:

      Did you happen to teach at Groveland Park elementary?

    76. shirly chwalowsk says:

      My son is 15 and in 9th grade. He has fallen between the cracks in school since he was in first grade. He still does not have the basic foundations down in reading, writing and math. He struggles in school and wants to go to college but the school keeps brushing if off. He is on an IEP but the school sugar coats the grades so it looks like everything is fine. He hardly studies and gets an A or B because he doesn't have to. They tried giving him a different star testing than the other kids so it looks good for the school but I caught it and said I want him test with all of the other kids. I have two other children behind him. One has had excellent teachers every single year and the other one has not. The one with the good teachers love learning and can't get enough of it. The teachers make a difference. I am a very concerned parent. I am worried my son will get out of high school and even college not being able to hold down a good job.

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