I would have to agree with your concerns. I am a certified 1-9 Teacher who is married to an 8th Grade U.S. History Teacher. I see both sides to this story as a homeschooing mother and a Teacher. I agree that teachers have felt some pressure to teach for the tests. However being on the other side in the Teaching profession and knowing many of the valuable teachers-- I know that many of them are trying their best to integrate their subjects when they teach. Of course I cannot speak for all teachers, but for many that I have worked with.
We all need to remember that the quality of public education is a mirror image of how our society is going. Our society is going downhill-- so is education. It is a winless battle, and a constant struggle for both sides. If we cannot take care and value our teachers and education by providing for them, then the future of our public schools is going to falter.
We must first start by recognizing the teaching profession as being a building block to the country's and our economy's future. Winless battle... winless battle.
You make a very good point, and I do agree with it. Although, I will always think it is a winless battle--- mostly because it is politicized. Everyone feels they can be a "hero" and try to save our educational system. In reality, it is the economy and society that drives the educational system. The school system where we live keeps cutting jobs every year. Our poverty level is ever climbing, and funding for the school just isn't there. Our art and music programs have been cut so far that the children are only getting these classes every two weeks. Our teacher's salaries are 40% less than any of the bigger area schools. The average salary per year is only $27,000... with our starter teachers starting at only $22,000. It is hard for any family to live off of that. Then you start adding in any extra cuts they are giving, such as insurance premiums rising, and extracurricular pay drops. We have seen many of our colleagues switch professions to work shifts at Murphy Oil and the local papermills. They were all high quality teachers. All of them.
The No Child Left Behind Act did only a few good things for our local school--- it gave us a 5 year grant for afterschool tutoring and summer school teaching. It was perfect and fabulous for me, since it gave me a job for 5 years. After the 5 years was up, all of the tutors lost our jobs... and we went right back to square one. It had also given us some new technology in our school which helped for a few years. But... the Act had the teachers teaching more about the test taking and Math and English. We were under even more pressure because we could have lost our 5 year grant if we failed to qualify each year.
Because of our school failing in many aspects, including the school's structure and our salary, we decided a few years back to start looking for a new job. We applied in so many schools, and received many interviews. The market was so saturated with incoming teachers that couldn't find jobs. A lot of competition for these jobs-- all in higher quality school systems where the wealth was seen. My husband finally got a new job two years ago already--- an hour away from our house. The job that he left had NO APPLICANTS.... all incoming teachers research the school districts first. NO ONE APPLIED for my husband's old job. They ended up having a long-term substitute all year.
My husband's new job pays us a LOT more! But--- because of our economy and the high poverty level with the lack of new residents coming in... Our house has been on the market for 2 years now. We are stuck living here until our home sells. I homeschool my children for more than one reason. My husband commutes almost a whole hour to work each day, and an hour home. We couldn't even rent our home for our mortgage price, and obviously our mortgage company said no to any more small mortgages. They have stopped doing bridge loans altogether, and had basically stopped giving loans for a while there.
So, until we can start taking care of each and every school system-- and start valuing the work teacher's are doing... it is a winless battle.
**Plus--- you start to figure in the other nation's advances in their school systems and you will find that we do not even come close in quality-- especially in Japan and China. There will never be a standard that will live up to a competitive market. That is also ever-changing.
By the way, I am really enjoying this discussion. There are so many people that have their blindsides on, and do not realize the geographical and social-economical aspects of teaching and the quality of education. :)
I have been teaching for ten years. I'm not sure if you are involved in the education system in any way, but much of what you are stating is false. Yes, it is correct that state tests focus primarily on Math and Reading, however, there is also a Science test in many states as well. With Reading, most of the passages are informational and the topics range from history, art, music, and geography, to name a few. Teachers do not teach to a test. I am so tired of hearing that. I teach the skills and standards I am required to teach under my curriculum and the state test is based on those standards. Teachers who complain about not having time for their curriculum because they claim they must teach to a test lack creativity and passion for their profession. You stated that "everything else has been ripped out of the curriculum", and I ask you when was the last time you were in a middle school or high school? Our students attend six classes throughout the day; math, science, language arts, reading, geography, and an elective. Once they become seventh and eighth graders, they have history instead of geography and two electives, because reading is merged with language arts. What is your version of a "genuine" education? Also, many politicians want to blame the problems with schools and education overall on the teachers and the schools, but no one has anything to say about parents and the students' decreasing interest and value in education. I have seen so much in ten years; the way students talk to teachers and adults, the lack of respect, and the irresponsibility of many parents keeps getting worse. No one wants to blame society or the demise of the family unit...it's easier to blame the teachers. Well, we see what is happening first hand, we see it in the children that enter our classrooms year after year. It's sad to me, because I truly loved my job, but now, schools are going to lose really good teachers thanks to Obama and his push to use educators as his scapegoats.
I hope people do more homework and learn more about what the school system is really like before they agree with what the current administration is doing to us. They are trying to fix the wrong thing...we, educators and the curriculum are not the problem. And by the way, Obama is still using a high stakes test just like NCLB did, but now there will be even less funding to back up his so-called new plan. What is he really changing? Nothing, just punishing teachers and schools.