Teaching: not for the faint of heart

A teacher's strike in Seattle shows some progress toward education reform

Teachers inherently form the bedrock of our community. Through them, generation after generation forms into coherent, mature and educated adults.

Our country seems to have forgotten this. Teachers have been subjected to intense and often unrealistic scrutiny and recent educational reform has proven unwieldy at best and damaging at worst. Worst of all, we pay teachers a pittance compared to most jobs in the United States.

The teacher’s strike in Seattle that ended this past Tuesday is cause for celebration. The teachers’ union had gone on strike for a variety of reasons and Seattle Public Schools yielded on most of them. Pay increases will go up to 9.5 percent during the next three years, in addition to the 4.5 percent cost-of-living increase that will happen during the next two years.

Yet the strike was not just about the teachers. Several other important points were conceded a well. Thirty minutes of recess has been guaranteed for elementary students, special education student-teacher ratios and caseloads will be lowered and new committees will be formed at 30 schools to investigate racial equity.

Most important of all, standardized testing will no longer be used as an evaluation tool for teachers and teachers will have more of a say in how often students are tested.

Our society has gotten used to the idea of standardized testing. It has pervaded every level of education except for collegiate. Yet the benefits are uncertain at best. Teaching-to-the-test has become such a widespread notion that no explanation is needed for the phrase. Parents and students bemoan the limited scope of classes as teachers hurriedly attempt to train students on how to ace the standardized test for the year.

Standardized testing fails to teach the most important aspect of learning: how to learn. Students are taught how to pass a test. Logic and intellectual discourse have fallen by the wayside.

Memorization is being prioritized more than actually understanding.

New York has not proven to be friendly toward teachers. Multiple qualifying exams, the loathed Common Core and other problems prove serious stumbling blocks for teachers.

The strike in Seattle provides hope.

Our educational system is currently poorly ranked considering our position in the world. The effects can be felt throughout our society. Social issues, unemployment and foreign policy are just a few examples of problems that could be better solved with a more educated country.

If the United States truly wants to be great, we have to start from the beginning: education.

email: editorial@ubspectrum.com