Should I Abandon Public Education?

Last week was a hard week to be a public educator. Between what is happening locally and nationally my frustration level is at an all time high. At a local level, my school like many other schools across the country has been hit by extraordinary cuts in state aide. I teach in a very small and rural school that is heavily dependent on that aid because of a small tax base. In the ten years I have been here I have seen a technology program go from two teachers to one, an art program go from two teachers to one, a home and careers program go from two teachers to one half-time teacher, and I have seen this district hire and fire at least three different physics teachers because of budget constraints. Beyond the budget woes, there have been a slew of other news items that have dishearted this normally stalwart advocate for public education. Take a look at this ad:

The tagline of this ad is “Stop listening to teacher’s unions“, and it ends with the line: “and make decisions that are gonna benefit the kids.” Put these two line together and you come up with teachers (who are represented by unions) do not make decisions that benefit kids. Maybe I’m feeling over sensitive, but this ad punched me in the gut. This ad follows on the coat tails of a front page story that was run in the Syracuse newspaper entitled: Recession doesn’t hold back Central New York teachers’ raises , normally I could have just shrugged this off as inflammatory yellow journalism written to sell copies, but look at the comments that appear below the article. Here is an example of one.

Unions are powerfull ------Better take a look around -----Who's going to pay taxes when all the business go south or go out of business .Oh by the way I think there should be a new law ----like school kids who don't own property or pay taxes shouldn't be voting on issues of school taxes. Teachers butter up the kids and get them out to vote. Same kids who vote get educated here and leave town.

These are the opinions of my neighbors who feel free to express their honest opinions under the protection of anonymity, and it seems that the only comments coming to the defense of teachers are written by teachers.

Where am I going with this rant you might ask? Certainly teachers have been under fire before as spoiled over paid babysitters. Well now I am a dad. My son is two and a half and I have begun to contemplate his education. These sentiments that I have mentioned above, coupled with the budget constraints, coupled with accountability pressures on the state and national level, coupled with unreasonable moral expectations are driving talented young teaching prospects away from the profession. All of us know that greatest variable to have an impact on a child’s education is the classroom teacher and passionate teachers take this stuff personally, how many will be left in 2 1/2 years? My son loves art and music and these seem to be the first programs to get the axe when school budgets get tight, will I have to pay for private lessons? Does this mean that arts programs become the exclusive purview of the rich?

Should I abandon public education and home school my son?

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3 thoughts on “Should I Abandon Public Education?

  1. ktenkely says:

    Chris, this seems to be a trend across the country. I think all teachers are beginning to feel battered and bruised. There is a real lack of understanding. Communities have become cynical of the school system, teachers, and even students. We need to start examining why this is happening. Perhaps some of it is tied to NCLB and published test scores. When all they hear about is failing schools there is a real feeling of someone not doing their job. They seem to come to the conclusion that the teachers are at fault. It is falling on us, the educators, to defend our profession and a school system that we don’t always (usually) agree with. It is time for our voices to get louder, it is time for us to paint a picture of just what we face every day in the classroom. From needy students to scripted curriculum and unreasonable tests, we have to show the community just what we are up against every day. I often think that someone needs to do a reality show inside a school before people will truly start to “get it”. It is time for us to be creative outside of our classrooms and take a stand in what we believe in. No one could argue with it. The question is how to get that word out.
    .-= ktenkely´s last blog ..Stage’d =-.

  2. Rachster says:

    Hi Chris. I am only 11 years old, so I sort of didn’t get some of the things you said in that post, but the bits I did get don’t sound very good. I can tell how you would feel. I live in Austalia, so this kind of stuff isn’t happening here (well, at least I don’t think it is). I was just reading ktenkely’s comment. I also think test failures could be a possisble reason for this commotion. In Australia/Adelaide we also have a test that all odd graders (as in kids in grade 3, 5, 7, 9, 11) have to do. It is for the Gouvernment to see how well puplic schools are going with their education. It is called the NAPLAN test. It stands for National Assesment Programme Literacy And Numeracy. What does the NCLB stand for? Good luck with your teachers problems.. 😀 😉

    Anyway, I would like to thanks you for commenting/visiting my blog. I feel very priveleged to have a teacher come on. Thanks a lot.
    Rachster 😀 😀 😀
    .-= Rachster´s last blog ..Urrbrae Wetlands =-.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks for taking the time to come and visit my blog. I was sort of ranting in this post and I am feeling better about public education at the moment. Students like you help :). NCLB stands for No Child Left Behind and is a government program designed to improve public education in America. It tries to do that by testing student’s progress often and holding teachers and schools accountable if students don’t do well enough.

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