Letter: Teachers aren’t the problem

It’s good that we are having this discussion about education.

Sometime in the 1980s, it became aucourrant for school boards to micromanage the classroom. This has worked about as well as a hospital administrator micromanaging heart surgeons. In any system, you have to allow the administrators to do what they do best (push paper, keep the funding flowing and smile for the cameras) and allow the rank-and-file workers to do what they do best (get the job done).

At the end of each school year, a school should turn out students who are prepared for the next step in their lives. That step may be the next grade in sequence, something bigger like college, or, if the student is old enough, a job. Somewhere along the line, we have lost track of this simple goal. Now, our teachers “teach to the test” so that school districts’ LEAP scores will look good in the newspaper.

My grade-school years were from 1961 to 1966. This was a time when the U.S. led the entire world in education. We were No. 1 in every category. What has changed?

In 1960, teachers were allowed to teach. Paperwork was done by the guidance office or by administrators. Today, a large portion of a teacher’s day is devoted to paperwork.

Although technology constantly advances, our society has consistently “dumbed down” over time. Kids watch TV or play video games instead of reading. Parents have the responsibility to see that this does not happen. Mine did.

Our drive to not leave anyone behind has blinded us to the fact that education is, by its very nature, elitist. We need to get back to the day when the star student was feted as much as the star athlete.

We need to ensure that top achievers are placed in programs that push them to their limits. Our magnet schools do a fair job of this, but the entry requirements are pathetic.

My parents and grandparents had high expectations of me and were not inclined to listen to excuses. No teacher of mine ever put together a folder for me to keep track of my work, called my parents to give them a weekly report on my progress, or engaged in any activities that took time away from teaching.

Our way of educating children in the United States is a system with many working parts. We have apparently decided to single out one — the classroom teacher — as the person responsible for all of the systemic ills. The teachers that I know wouldn’t mind that kind of responsibility if the bureaucrats would get out of the way and let them do their jobs.

Michael Hale

IT consultant

Baton Rouge