While recent events have bolstered confidence in the quality of our children’s education here in north Alabama, the collective hand-wringing continues on America’s overall ability to educate future adults competing in a global market.
Decatur schools, while decrying an unfair reputation, appear to have some good programs in place and on inspection under the eye of new Superintendent Ed Nichols. Hartselle schools continue to produce Blue Ribbon awards. And the regional debate over vouchers for non-public schools causing so much consternation in nearby states is barely on the radar in our tri-county area.
Still, American education as a whole is again taking a pounding.
A study released by Washington think-tank American Progress reports that 37 percent of fourth-graders say their math work is too easy. It goes on to say that more than a third of high-school seniors say they hardly ever write about what they read in class.
And 72 percent of eighth-grade science students say they aren’t being taught engineering and technology.
In short, school is too easy.
And this opinion comes from the students.
Last year, the Measures of Effective Teaching project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, determined that student feedback was a far better predictor of teacher performance than old-school indicators, such as whether a teacher had a master’s degree.
According to the American Progress report:
In Morgan, Limestone and Lawrence counties, our teachers are of quality and generally give their hearts, as well as their hours, to our children to prepare them for the adult world.
Whether they are “teaching to the test” or are pressured to teach skills and habits that kids should be learning at home, the bar in America has been lowered. Our children don’t learn more because we don’t ask them to.
Now they are asking us to teach them more.
Let’s give them what they want. And deserve.
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