Classroom Control

The American education system is in a state of crisis. Despite throwing more tax dollars at our K-12 education system than nearly any other country in the world, our students rank far below all of our main economic rivals in every important category. Every successive Presidential administration has proposed a series of plans to attempt to fix our ailing schools and give our students a chance to be competitive on a global scale, but none of the plans have improved anything, and Washington DC has failed generation after generation of American children.

Why have some of the brightest minds in the country failed over and over again to solve the problem of American children’s lack of achievement? If we are assuming that they were all acting in good faith, there must be some reason that none of their plans were able to accomplish anything. The problem is that each attempt at education reform has resulted in more and more centralization of authority, with the control of what happens in the classroom passing higher and higher up the ladder. Most recently, the Obama Administration has instituted national standards and testing to ensure that students all across the country are being taught the same material and being held to the same standard. The thought is that this will allow the government to make meaningful comparisons between students in different parts of the country, but all it is really doing is helping to ensure that students nationwide are achieving the same level of mediocrity.

The goal of standardized state or national testing has always been “to hold teachers accountable.” We have been told over and over again that the problem with our educational system lies with America’s teachers. We are told that the teachers are lazy, they are unprofessional, and teachers’ unions make it difficult for administrators to fire teachers who are not doing their jobs. We are told that poor teacher performance is the reason our students are unable to measure up to students from other industrialized countries, and that is why we need to use standardized testing to track what our children are learning in their schools. However years and years of testing and other meddling in classrooms has failed to produce any results, and our students are still struggling – to the point that in a 2012 international test, American students scored worse than students from 29 other nations.

The real solution for this problem is to restore control of America’s classrooms to the teachers. The result of the educational reforms over the last several years is that we have hobbled teachers’ ability to respond to their students’ difficulties. Rather than adjusting their curricula in order to accommodate their students’ circumstances and struggles, teachers are forced to teach directly to the tests. This significantly damages the educational experience for all American students, because their teachers are unable to personalize lessons or alter the curriculum to make it more accessible to students from different regions or cultures.

We need to rearrange our priorities. Instead of “holding teachers accountable” and forcing them to teach to the tests, we need to empower our professional educators to make the most of their training, expertise, and experience. Teachers need to regain control of their own classrooms so that they can tailor their instruction to the needs of their students, rather than continuing to practice the test-based instruction that has been demonstrated to be ineffective. If you want real change for America’s children, please cast your write-in vote for Art Drew for President of the United States in 2016.