Education in America; Wisconsin – The Real Story

Here’s what we know that will make our schools better:

1.    Improve the quality of teaching.
2.    Personalize the educational experience of children to meet diverse needs and interests.
3.    Treat schools as unique, organic communities, not standard same-for-all institutions.

What do we have?

1.    We have “No Child Left Behind” that places enormous importance on standardizing instead of a more personal, organic, and creative experience for each child.
2.    We have president Obama’s recent State of the Union speech emphasizing that the only disciplines of importance are math and science. This message tells our children that if they are not good at either one of these subjects they are not smart and they will probably not be as successful as those who are accomplished in math and science.
3.    We continue to believe that if everyone is good at math and science, we’ll be fine. Meanwhile, creativity, innovation, lateral thinking, and the treasures all our children house in their minds are wasted as we are commanded to focus on math and science.
4.    The entire model for our education system is built on Industrial Age beliefs regarding supply and demand. This no longer holds true. The rapid acceleration of technology, population growth, and the shifting of power throughout the world make it impossible to predict what our society and economy will have even 2 years from now.

Here is what is true:

1.    Education is extremely personal. Everyone is unique and different in their interests, talents, and learning styles.
2.    Human talents are buried deep within us and teachers must be adept at identifying and nurturing our children’s aptitudes.
3.    It will take more than competency in Math and Science for America to prosper and grow in the future.
4.    It is NOT about money!

Now let’s look at money and what it has accomplished in Wisconsin, since it is in the news for leading the charge in education:

1.    Wisconsin’s per pupil spending on public school students increased from $6,517 in 1996 to $10,791 in 2008.
2.    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator the $6,517 that Wisconsin spent per pupil in 1996 dollars equaled $8,942 in 2008 dollars. That means that from 1996 to 2008, Wisconsin public schools increased their per pupil spending by $1,849 or 20.7% in real terms while adding only one percentage point to their average eighth grader’s math score. (Terence P. Jeffrey)
3.    The $10,791 that Wisconsin spent per pupil in its public elementary and secondary schools in fiscal year 2008 was more than any other state in the Midwest.
4.    In the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests administered by the U.S. Department of Education in 2009, the latest year available, only 31% of Wisconsin public-school eighth graders earned a “proficient” rating while another 8% earned an “advanced” rating.
5.    The other 61 % of Wisconsin public-school eighth graders earned ratings below “proficient,” including 40% who earned a rating of “basic” and 21% who earned a rating of “below basic”.
6.    The NAEP tests also showed that the mathematics test scores of Wisconsin public-school eighth graders have remained almost flat since 1996 while inflation adjusted per-pupil spending had significantly increased.
7.    In fiscal 2008, the federal government provided $669.6 million in subsidies to the public schools in Wisconsin.

I don’t mind paying teachers what they are worth. I don’t mind paying them for results, but NOT these results! If Wisconsin teachers, their unions, and teachers all across our country call the above statistics “Results” then they have lost their way.

We have placed our most precious treasures, our children, in the hands of impostors who cannot deliver. They are stealing the nation’s future. We are doomed. They cannot produce. They cannot be fired. They have TENURE, a job for life. The laugh is on us; we pay their salaries with our property taxes. They take our money and dull the minds of our children.

It is easier to get rid of a Predator Priest than it is to fire an Incompetent Teacher.

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  1. Cindy
    February 23, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Your statement of “tenure, a job for life” is VERY untrue. An incompetent teacher CAN be fired. Tenure is to protect our position in our school site, but NOT our job if a teacher is bad, underperforming, or continually receiving unsatisfactory ratings.
    You really should do more research into exactly what “tenure” means before you make false statements.

    • February 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm

      It is not supposed to be for life, but as described in Teacher Tenure, ERIC Digest, “It is not impossible to terminate the employment of a tenured teacher, but the process is a difficult and cumbersome one. Consequently, many parents arrive at the conclusion that administrators would rather retain incompetent teachers than go through the time and effort involved in a dismissal hearing.” It is very expensive to fire an incompetent teacher. Teacher Tenure is a heated topic and it may be because the teachers and their unions have made little effort to enlighten or inform. What they do well is to defend those who need to be fired. I believe all educational statistics speak for themselves. Our children are seriously behind the rest of the industrialized world. How do you defend this?

      • March 15, 2011 at 10:40 pm

        Terminating a tenured teacher really is not that difficult. Unions have their faults, but how would any teacher receive a fair salary without a union? You start talking teachers and salaries just about anywhere and all people do it moan and complain about their taxes going up. No unions = unfair salaries….especially when you want each child to receive a “more personal, organic, and creative experience”. How much time do you think that will take? Completely unrealistic, IMO.

  2. A Still
    March 6, 2011 at 9:34 pm

    Administrators can help support teachers to improve and if a teacher does not improve, then all that is needed is documentation of the support and the lack of improvement. If it is done correctly, then unions support the review of the process to make sure the process is followed – not defend. When the documentation is accurate and complete, it is not a costly process. When an administrator can’t write observations that show the concerns and don’t support the improvement of the teacher, then the process is costly because the process has not been followed.

    • March 7, 2011 at 11:37 am

      Thank you for your point of view. It is appreciated. How does the teacher’s union explain the “Rubber Rooms” in New York that have received so much news attention? This is a place where teachers are paid, some for 3 years, to sit all day and do nothing while unions and city officials negotiate. It is purported that some teachers are there for child abuse, i.e. sexual predators.

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