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Better education a ‘two-way street’

As if bailing out banks and the auto industry wasn’t enough, now Washington, D.C., wants more control over schools across the country.
Through the $4.35 billion federal incentive program called Race to the Top, the U.S. Department of Education is asking states to advance reforms in four areas by adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy; by building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction; by recruiting, developing, rewarding and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and by turning around the lowest-achieving schools.
Under Indiana’s $500 million, teachers would be categorized into four groups, ranging from highly effective to ineffective. The state would check to ensure a reasonable distribution across those categories would be made so a school district couldn’t lump all of its teachers in the top categories.
Teachers in the highest categories and producing students with the best test scores could get bonuses from the state, while those in the lower categories would be targeted for dismissal. New teachers still labeled as being ineffective after six years would lose their teaching licenses.
So, the question must be asked: What if a corporation doesn’t have many bad teachers? And if there aren’t many ‘ or any ‘ ineffective teachers, what happens to the unfortunate few who are unfairly categorized as being ineffective when they are actually doing a really good job? For instance, do the feds believe elementary schools in Crawford County, which have won multiple No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon and Four Star School awards in the past few years, have just as many bad teachers as they do good ones?
Each teacher and each teaching style they use is different. Some students respond better to more discipline, while other students learn more in a relaxed atmosphere. And there are some students who for whatever reason ‘ learning disability, rough home life, peer pressure, etc. ‘ simply aren’t going to make the grade no matter how good a teacher may be or how much money the feds want to throw at the problem.
Nothing will really change in educating Indiana students unless the way we look at education doesn’t involve hundreds of millions of dollars.
Education is a two-way street.
Teachers need to stop cutting kids slack for not doing well in school. If a child does ‘D’ work, the child needs to get a ‘D’ on his or her report card. It’s OK if feelings get hurt. Not every student can be the best, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be challenged to do better.
And, most importantly, parents need to encourage their children to be competitive and to try their best to accomplish everything they can. Parents need to stop being their child’s friend and start being ruler of the house again. If there’s homework to be done, it needs to be done before a single television or video game is turned on. If a child gets a bad grade, there needs to be consequences.
Improving education in America can be done not with dimes, but with time on both ends of the street.