If you were to take a glance around social media (and in many of the current books on education out there), it would seem as though we’ve finally figured it all out. We finally have a plan in place to help today’s students achieve maximum academic and social growth over the course of a given school year.
Buzz words permeate the field like freshly falling snowflakes in a shaken snow globe.
Standards-Based Report Cards.
Don’t get me wrong. Each idea has some merit and does carry the potential to positively impact student learning. The problem with these ideas is that they always appear to be a one-size fits all approach.
“If we do THIS…ALL kids will benefit.”
However, how can that possibly be? How can an equitable education be promised to each and every child through the implementation of these proposed protocols? Who exactly benefits from these proposals? Whose voice is behind their surging influence within our field?
So while the debate rages on as to which (or all) of the aforementioned ideas will be forced upon school districts, here are some of the things in education that continue to worry me. In my humble opinion, we need to address these far more pressing issues before any of those “fresh ideas” can be effective.
10 Pressing Problems in Education
- White Privilege
- School discipline protocols that discriminate against students of color
- Lack of diversity in the workforce
- Recent surge in student suicide
- Increase in reported bullying incidents
- Gun-related incidents on school grounds
- Inability to provide Special Education services that meet requirements set forth by local and federal laws
- Stifling of student voices
- Too many one-size-fits-all approaches to Ed. Reform
- Education conferences (and other professional development opportunities) that many teachers are unable to afford
This list is in no particular order and continually changes over time. What you’ll also notice is that I did not go into detail as to how I think we can fix these issues. I’ve done that on purpose. I simply would love to get educators and administrators talking. I don’t have all the answers. Perhaps I’m even wrong on some of these problems.
The last thing the field of education needs is yet another white male coming in to try and save the day.
We need to come together to fix these issues. We need everyone’s voice at the table. If we can help buildings create and maintain a school climate that is safe and welcoming for all students and faculty members, we will then be able to implement those current buzz terms. Until then? We’re wasting a lot of time and money on initiatives that simply will not succeed.
And when those new policies do eventually fail? Who suffers?
The time for change is now. Let’s get to work.
Ryan McHale is the host of the education-based podcast, Pondering Education. He is an 8th grade ELA teacher, curriculum coordinator, and Gay-Straight Alliance advisor.