FROM THE EDITOR: Real education issue still overlooked

September 30, 2010

by Amy Olita

With the school year beginning, President Barack Obama is already looking to the years ahead, as opposed to focusing on the current educational crisis.

According to the Associated Press, Obama announced Monday he wants to extend the classroom year and expel under-performing teachers, all in an effort to catch up with the educational advances of other developed nations.

Funny how no one cares until America starts to lose. How did no one see our steadily declining educational standards as No Child Left Behind left every child behind? As educators focus more on teaching toward a multiple choice test rather than critical thinking, it astounds me that the big answer to saving education is making kids go to school for another month, so A, B, C and D can become more ingrained in their little heads.

The president said the month students are out for summer really makes a difference in retaining information from school year to school year. While I have no doubt that students lose information over their vacation, students need that break to regain their creativity that has been brainwashed out of them over the past year.

Obama then went on to say he wants to work with the teachers’ unions to help raise the status of teachers in general but does not condone the union defending failing school districts. He even endorsed the firing of teachers who are still falling short after opportunities for improvement.

While I agree that anyone who fails to fulfill their job duties should only get so many chances, it may be easier on the people who mold the future minds of America if they were given more freedom in the classroom and an emphasis on all facets of study, like music and the arts, rather than just math and science. It is like we have returned to the Cold War period as we try to catch up with the rest of the world.

The arts seem to be the first programs to cut in an effort to save money. So students may no longer use mediums like music, theater and art to set themselves apart. Perhaps in the financial crisis that we have gotten ourselves into, opening schools longer is not the answer; this only costs more money in salaries paid, air conditioners running and computers buzzing.

More school days will not help students retain the information they learned throughout the year. Even a month-long summer break will cause memories to dissipate.

What needs to be done is to ensure students learn the material to begin with, something a standardized test will never be able to completely measure. Maybe Obama’s goal of recruiting 10,000 new teachers over the next two years will get us teachers who actually teach, but looking at the current state of affairs, that remains doubtful at best.

Amy Olita is a senior journalism major from Shreveport who serves as editor for The Tech Talk. E-mail comments to ako005@latech.edu.