Now that the education bills have passed through both the Louisiana House and Senate, I hope the plan works for the sake of the state. I just don’t see how it will. There’s not enough space in private, parochial, and charter schools to accommodate all the students from bad schools. It seems that instead of forcing the school districts to make tough decisions and forcing them to improve; it’s merely making them do what is necessary to survive with less income. Will that make them improve? I don’t know. The teachers union have been dramatically unwilling to comprehensively restructure because many of them would lose their jobs, but are these bills the best way to deal with them?
While I think the quality of teachers is significantly lower compared to previous generations, how do you fairly critique their performances when there are more problem children from bad homes with no parental guidance than ever before? Teachers are expected to be psychologists, social workers, disciplinarians, etc… a long list of things they are not qualified, not trained, and not compensated to do.
People need to honestly accept the fact that we need full integration of social workers, therapists, police, etc. into the school system. We need to remove problem kids from the classroom so that teachers can concentrate on teaching. In order to do that, we need to hire people to deal with those problem kids specifically and we need to teachers to handle larger classrooms for it to be financially viable. I truly believe our teachers can handle more students if all they are doing is teaching because the system of education at the university level in the United States and elementary level in many other countries is dozens and dozens if not hundreds of students per teacher. It works because those students are invested and the problem students are removed or not in the classroom.
We can’t throw more money at the problem because there is no money left. The reality is that we have too many schools, too many facilities, and just flat out too much overhead. What makes that even worse is that we have a huge portion of our state not paying income taxes with our worst school districts having poor property tax income.
We need to accept the possibility of larger campuses in the style of small colleges. Early education would still need smaller classrooms because interaction is necessary for a lot of early development, but the moment children are capable of working on their own at their desk, they need to move to larger class sizes.
The state of Louisiana’s average class size was 17 in 2008 (http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/bystate/Rankings.aspx?state=LA&ind=1461). If half of those families aren’t paying taxes and half of those families have multiple children, do you see how tight tax dollars are to pay teachers?
In 2009, average American classroom was 24.3 students, so Louisiana teachers teach far less students than other states (http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/11/class-size-around-the-world/#). We see countries like Korea and Japan outpace our students while in the large classroom setting. Cultural discipline plays a role, but we could mimic that a great deal by removing the discipline problem kids from class and dealing with them separately.
My elementary school education between 3rd and 8th grade was in a classroom of 29-32 kids every single year. Most of my classmates turned out just fine. We didn’t have a vast amount of disciplinary problems and we had a pretty solid set of parents, but it goes to show our teachers were capable of teaching larger classes when students were generally attentive and problem free.
I feel like our educational problems would be best addressed by spending our money better instead of giving it away to charter/private/parochial schools when we need our school system to improve. Yet, I understand the dramatic approach taken because no one who is employed by the system is willing to make the changes necessary to overhaul it when it would cost a lot of people their jobs. Losing members is never a concession a union will ever willingly make, so maybe this is the only way.