Why our schools are failing

Most teachers do not teach because of the money.

By Robert Wilkerson

When people say our schools are failing, they have overstated the problem. The truth is many of our schools are failing, but some are doing quite well. The ones that are failing are not failing because prayer was taken out of schools, or teachers are lazy, or any of the other silly reasons the uninformed give.

There are several legitimate reasons why schools fail. Some people believe they do because teachers’ salaries are too low. While it is true their salaries are too low, that isn’t the reason.

Most teachers do not teach because of the money. They are dedicated professionals who give their best because they love children and want to make a positive difference in their lives. They would do the best they could for the kids, regardless of the money. This is not a reason to take advantage of them, though. It’s a reason to honor them, and to stand up for their rights to make as much money as other professionals.

Some people think teachers are lazy. They are wrong. Try taking a class of thirty energetic kids, period after period, five days a week, get them seated, calm them down, turn them to learning, and teach them. Do that for eight hours, five days a week plus prepare lesson plans, create tests, grade papers, do report cards, aid, assist, and advise students, hold parent/teacher conferences, and do a few other jobs that may be assigned by the administration. If anyone did all these things, they would soon discover teachers work hard, as hard as most, and harder than many.

Some people think lack of funding from the state legislature contributes to school failure. They are partially right. It’s estimated that lack of funding accounts for approximately 40% of school failures. Schools can’t pay competitive salaries or provide the necessary supplies, equipment, and technology without proper funding. It’s disgraceful that in many Alabama schools, parents must bring materials and supplies to school or teachers pay for them out of their personal funds.

Technology plays a big part in education today. Blackboards have gone the way of the horse and buggy and pity the young person who goes job hunting without computer skills.

Shame on representatives who will not properly fund education and the candidates running for office promising to cut the budget. That may be a good line to get the sucker vote. Intelligent people know budgets can be cut only so far before state departments are forced to reduce their workforces, their positive functions, and eventually cease to exist. Alabama budgets have already been cut to the bone due to a long line of politicians saying, “I’m going to cut the budget.” They’ve done that, and the people of Alabama are suffering because of it.

The greatest reason for school failures doesn’t lie in the schools. It lies in the homes and because of poverty. The Birmingham Business Journal recently published a study sponsored by UAB which shows this clearly. There is a direct correlation between a school’s grade and absenteeism. If homes can’t get their children to go to school, schools can’t teach them. An example of this is as follows:

Brookwood Forest Elementary–grade A (97)

Academic Achievement: 94.79

Academic Growth: 100

Chronic Absenteeism: 4.9%

Hudson K-8 School–grade F (54)

Academic Achievement: 29.42

Academic Growth: 71.53

Chronic Absenteeism: 38.05%

Homes in poverty spend most of their time just trying to survive. They are more concerned with where their next meal will come from, how they are going to pay the rent and utilities and clothe themselves than about education. Many of the parents and relatives didn’t complete school so children don’t have good role models or encouragers.

Now that we know why so many of our schools are failing, we can get busy fixing them. It won’t be easy. It will take our best minds. It may prove to be costly, but our children are worth it. Aren’t they?

Join the Movement #iBELIEVE 

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