Elementary smarts

June 24, 2009
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Tony Bennett, the stateâ??s new education chief, has said children who canâ??t read or write before reaching middle school years are all but doomed to struggle through the rest of their academic careers.

So, IBJ reporter J.K. Wall notes in this weekâ??s IBJ, the pressure is on elementary teachers to churn out students who can continue to flourish.

But are schools stocked with teachers who are up to the task, particularly now that Indiana has some of the highest academic standards in the nation? If SAT and Graduate Record Examination scores are any indication, the answer might be no, since education majors tend to rank fair to middling. The GRE in particular also raises questions about the quality of education that teachers are getting in their undergrad years.

However, averages are just that. And academic prowess doesnâ??t guarantee ability to impart knowledge.

How do you feel about the quality of Indiana elementary teachers? What about education programs in the stateâ??s colleges and universities? Are the programs rigorous enough?
  • ...children who can’t read or write before reaching middle school years are all but doomed to struggle through the rest of their academic careers.

    What? Read and write by middle school? How about by second grade? We need to raise the bar and expectations. Public schools have such an uphill battle because parents or other family members are not helping to educate students. Breaking the cycle is nearly impossible. Academic prowess may not guarantee a well-rounded person, but it gives them more opportunities - open more doors. No matter how good the teacher, they can't be in this endeavor alone. My child goes to private school where parental involvement is required and expected, academic standards are high, curriculum is rigorous and students of all races and ecomomic levels acheive at high levels. Kids can do amazing things if they have the support of everyone involved in their life.
  • I have my doubts that anyone has a foolproof method of teaching children. So many kids have parents who don't think of education as a necessity. Some of the kids I've seen just want attention from teachers, because they don't get enough at home. They are starved for attention. Teachers could do a much better job educating kids if parents would spend more time with their children.
  • As Bill Cosby stated, the African American males need to change their priorities and make the highest that of being the full-time fathers for their children. Until this happens, little will change. The cycle continues to swirl downward.

    Yes, and before anyone tries to paint me as a racist, it ain't just the black folk that have this problem going on, nonetheless the percentages are greater in the black community.
  • This is an interesting topic because I've just been explaining recently to many of my professional peers (most of whom have 1+ higher education degrees in business, law, science, etc.) how underwhelmed I have been with my Little Sister's school administrators and teachers during her educational process the last 9 years. (Having no children of my own, this is my closest representative experience.)

    It occurs to me that perhaps we have looked at education and the values we place on the intelligence and abilities of its masters in entirely the wrong way. When I think back to my own high school and collegiate experiences, and those who became teachers, the majority were average students themselves (at best). This becomes very apparent as you work with public school administrators and educators. I'm sorry to have to say it so bluntly, but facts are facts. While the efforts are reasonable, they're nothing more than, well, average.

    When you place average students (or perhaps even below average) with average instructors, how can we expect anything better than average results? And combined with the increasing load teachers are expected to manage in raising children in the classroom in addition to teaching them, won't our scores reflect this issue even more readily?

    We have the unfortunate practice of looking at these issues in silos - education, pre-natal care, parenting, family planning, criminal behavior, test scores, college admission rates, etc. What would be a more realistic approach is to think of these matters as a continuum of issues that have to be addressed in tandem.

    But, as many have said before, a core issue is the fact that teachers cannot (and should not) replace parents. (Neither can millions of taxpayer dollars by the way.)

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