Posted by Flatnose
I am motivated to write this by a newspaper article that appeared in the Las Vegas Review Journal on November 18, 2006 titled “Education reform – but how?”. The article was about a meeting of “a group of business and community leaders that came together to support school improvement.”
Various suggestions for improving education were apparently discussed at this meeting. Goals included “increasing expectations for student performance”, “to prepare students for jobs” and reduced dropout rates.
During almost all of my twenty three years of teaching I taught senior high school students a course they were required to pass to graduate. Not once did a prospective employer contact me to obtain a reference for or evaluation of one of my students. Apparently employers have no interest in what I might know or have observed about any of my students. Doesn’t this ‘sound’ ridiculous to anyone other than me?
Shouldn’t prospective employers want to know if a student attended class regularly (and would likely show up for work) or arrived at class on time (and would likely be on time for work) or paid attention during class (and would likely attempt to learn the job well) or was courteous (and would likely be courteous to fellow employees and ‘superiors’ and customers or clients) or earned a decent grade in relative comparison to his or her capabilities (and would likely be an achiever on the job who wants to earn promotions and such and will put in an effort to do so)?
Since employers do not show any interest in how students behave or perform in school there are no negative consequences for bad behavior and poor performance in school in the ‘real world of work’. Therefore, showing interest and allowing it to have real consequences would, in fact, show support for the schools and education, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it be a sign of respect for teachers? Wouldn’t it be a ‘signal’ or ‘message’ to students that good behavior and responsible academic efforts are important?
No one ‘thing’ or program will make our schools do better overnight. However, I think, before any more meetings of “community and business leaders” to decide how to “support school improvement” should be organized, community and business leaders should, in fact, start doing this simple thing. They should start showing support by seeking referrals and evaluations of students from teachers and letting students know that they are, in fact, watching with interest. This would support “increased expectations for student performance.” This would contribute to schools better preparing students for jobs. This might even help lower the drop out rates.