“Race to the Top” is a Race to Failing Education

“Race to the Top” is a new federal program that replaces “No Child Left Behind” and is designed to reward teachers according to the numbers of students they get to pass state-wide testing. This program uses only test scores to gauge teacher accountability which does not allow administrators to fully evaluate how successful and hard-working a teacher is. Socioeconomics, student support at home and how students are grouped from classroom to classroom may stack results to favor some teachers and unfairly disadvantage others. The government must work together with the teachers unions if they want to establish fair accountability.

Public schools are expected to be all things to all people. Schools must educate all children, including the extremely bright, the easy going “middle-of-the-road” child and those too challenged for regular education classes. Teachers are required to test their students “ad infinitum”. Each child must pass these tests, no matter how challenged they are and teachers are required to face administrative questioning if their students don’t perform up to a certain standard. Teachers are expected never to “teach to the test” and must encourage all children to love learning and be able to master all subjects. “Race to the Top” also imposes many unfunded mandates on the educational community putting an additional cost burden on so many already financially strapped school district budgets.

Teachers live and breathe their profession. They are highly educated individuals who work extremely hard each day to provide the best they can for every child in their classroom. Many spend a great deal of their own pocket money to buy basic supplies for the disadvantaged student or even for their classroom in these difficult economic times. A teacher’s day does not consist of the hours they are in the school building but continues way into the evening with extra-curricular activities, lesson plans, grading papers and chaperoning school events or field trips. Included in these extra hours are weekends and vacations spent in graduate or in-service courses to improve their teaching skills.

As always, teachers are on the front lines of education each and every day. They work as hard as they can to ensure that each child is learning and meeting expectations. Teachers are just as upset when a child does not succeed as the child is. Students must take education seriously as well. Parents must stress the value and importance of education to their children and make it a priority. Parents are children’s greatest role models and parents should raise their children to understand that education is the key to a successful life. Until support from the home is guaranteed, which is almost impossible to enforce, teachers cannot be judged by test scores. In many cases, the teacher is the only consistent person in a child’s day that shows love, support and encouragement. Stop measuring teachers by test scores and start to look at the daily activities in the classroom and see the hard work, dedication and professionalism that take place every minute of every school day in classrooms throughout the country. Education is not a “race” but a lifetime filled with learning, caring, commitment, professionalism and dedication from every teacher in every school throughout the country.

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