Sridutt Nimmagadda: America’s Failing Education Corroborated By Inadequacy of Teacher Performance

America’s Failing Education Corroborated By Inadequacy of Teacher Performance

By Sridutt Nimmagadda (senior staff writer for the Libertarian Party of Washington) 
Published June 18, 2013 on LPWA’s website

The National Council on Teacher Quality’s report on over 1,000 educational programs in the country corroborates a grim conclusion: while educational programs in the United States are over-saturating the job market with teachers and educators, the teacher-training programs are not adequately preparing educators for actual work in the classroom.

The report, equally lionized and rejected by members in academic and public policy circles, finds “they [in reference to education industries] have become an industry of mediocrity, churning out first-year teachers with classroom management skills and content knowledge inadequate to thrive in classrooms,” according to the report’s authors.

The inadequacy of teacher skill-sets also has a deep financial toll: teacher preparation programs, according to the report, are not giving aspiring teachers an adequate return on investment both time and moneywise.

This report is only fanning the flames of the debate over America’s failing educational system. Federal policies and spiked spending on educational programs such as No Child Left Behind have left American students, parents, and educators baffled over the aim of America’s educational system. If education is about student learning, as the argument goes, then why are we so worried about quantifying students by test scores and passing arbitrary standards set forth by the United States government? The push for test scores and standards performance over actual substance in the classroom is another cause (or deep implication) of the American educational crisis. Teachers are being taught to help kids pass tests, not learn.

There is also an institutional basis for failure in the American education system, and it is that when our teachers perform poorly, it is hard to get rid of them and replace them with more qualified teachers. This is a serious problem when teachers are underperforming so terribly. “There’s plenty of research out there that shows that teacher quality is the single most important factor,” says Delaware Governor Jack Markell. But Michael Petrilli of the Fordham Institute gravely asserts that “you just need to have a pulse and you can get into some of these education schools….if policymakers took this report seriously, they’d be shutting down hundreds of programs.”

The council also found the following disturbing trends:

  • 3 out of 4 teacher- training programs do not train teachers to teach reading in a manner that is based on the latest research.
  • Less than 11% of programs train teachers to teach to the Common Core Standards.
  • Most teachers involved in the study only have a year of teaching experience.

Serious education reform must be considered at the federal, state, and local level. But until the government and its policy makers can understand the root of the problem, which is teacher preparation and non-alignment of academic standards, our posterity will continue to suffer from a lack of instruction and a weakening workforce.

“The mission of the Libertarian Party of Washington is to advance liberty by electing Libertarians and passing legislation that will reduce the size and scope of intrusive government.”

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