Education is the foundation of an enlightened and prosperous society. We need great teachers to get us there.We need all Gerald Conti’s Back.
American education is in crisis. Our student ranking in the world is down and evaluation and testing seems to have taken over learning, innovation and pursuit of knowledge and critical thinking. According to the Program for International Assessment (PISA), latest assessment from 2012, the U.S. students achievements are far from positive:
“ U.S. students ranked below average in math, behind 29 nations and other jurisdictions. In Science, 22 education systems scored above the U.S. average, up from 18 in 2009. In reading, 19 other jurisdictions scored higher than U.S. students, a jumped from 9 in 2009. The top overall scores came from Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Macao and Japan, followed by Lichtenstein, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Estonia. The math scores of students in Shanghai indicated ‘the equivalent of over two years of formal schooling ahead of those in Massachusetts, a strong performing U.S. state.’”
Crystallizing the problem and it’s immense magnitude and putting human face to it, is the resignation of a veteran teacher from Syracuse, New York, Gerald Conti, who felt this was his only choice since “After writing all this I realized that I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists.” (Following is the full letter of resignation):
In his letter, Gerald Conti explained that his early retirement (three years earlier than he had hoped) is the result of:
“a long train of failures has brought us to this unfortunate pass. In their pursuit of Federal tax dollars, our legislators have failed us by selling children out to private industries such as Pearson Education. The New York State Unified Teachers union has let down its membership by failing to mount a much more effective and vigorous campaign against this same costly and dangerous debacle. Finally, it is with sad reluctance that I say our own administration has been both uncommunicative and unresponsive to concerns and needs of our staff and students by establishing testing and evaluation systems that are Byzantine at best and at worst, draconian.”
He ends his letter with “From the last decade or so, I have had two signs hanging above the blackboard at the front of my classroom, they read “Words Matter” and “Ideas Matter”. While I still believe these simple statements to be true, I don’t feel that those currently driving public education have any inkling of what they mean.”
Education is the foundation and most important building block of an enlightened society and civilization. Learning, critical thinking and independent projects abilities and management are all essential skills we all need to succeed. Good teachers must have the tools and breathing room they need to innovate and educated. They must have good compensation (they earn that every day with their hard work and dedication), and the support from school administration and parents they richly deserve. Investment in high quality education is essential to ensure the future prosperity of our society as well as the high human and intelligence qualities of its members, we all want and expect.