"What do you think is the most challenging issue in education today?"
Today's question is really big. It seems like it would require much more than a paragraph but I will do my best to stay brief. One of the biggest challenges--I say "one of" because I think that there are several key issues faced by education--is the age-old problem of "too many cooks in the kitchen." Let me explain...
So, What's Wrong...
It is touted in the news how students are being failed by our schools. Their scores are nothing to celebrate on international exams, our students are behind many other nations in reading and math, we lack enough prepared student to assume jobs in the STEM fields, the United States issues more PhD's to international students than our own, and on and on. So this education "crisis" has resulted in one plan after another: NCLB, RT3, CCSS, charter schools, home schooling, year-round schools, merit pay, and the list can go on. The thing is, most of these proposed solutions to help our students catch-up with the world have been developed by people who aren't in the classroom. Some solutions have been proposed by people or groups that aren't even related to education. How can this be that the boots on the ground--the classroom teachers and site administrators--are so rarely consulted about what is best for our students?
Why are the Professionals Ignored?
If they would take the time to ask, they would learn that we have incredibly dedicated teachers trying their best, often in quite adverse conditions, to do what is right for our kids. They do not need to be given merit pay. They can not be evaluated by the performance of their students on a test. Education is a marathon, not a sprint. And the best way to improve the success rate of our kids is to actually make legislation that works to the advantage of our schools. Basic fixes like mandatory classroom size limits, equal distribution of resources, free wi-fi in every school, access to devices for every student, field trips, guest speakers, safe playgrounds, adequate recess and lunch time, and again, this list can go on.
But you get the picture and I said I would be brief. If the experts in education were truly consulted and if legislators would provide real support for education, and if businesses would donate time, talent and treasure to education rather than trying to manage education, we would be much better off. Sadly, too many inexperienced individuals are trying to make decisions without recognizing that there is a whole lot of experience begging to be asked and if given the opportunity could have a positive impact on education and future generations.