A cornerstone of being an American is free public education to ensure the pursuit of happiness in a democratic society.
What has caused turmoil among educators however, is the intermarriage between politics and education. State and federal programs take an initiative teachers feel disconnect with the realities of learning.
“There are a lot of changes in education by people who aren’t in tune with schools,” said AP Calculus instructor, Christopher Collins.
“It would be far better if the people making changes listened more to teachers rather than politicians.”
Public education has always been in a state of constant evolution, to fit the needs of new generations and innovations, adjusting itself to the changing time of day. Yet with previous federal plans such as the No Child Left Behind Act, a Bush led program instituting the annual testing students and teachers alike loathe, a system has been born with results many teachers feel exacerbate students with fitting into a mold without depth.
“Testing goes back to politics,” said AP English Language teacher, George Carabine.
“It’s a political tool to show everyone what they’ve done. Some people are cut out to be brain surgeons, some aren’t. What we have are people trying to make everyone brain surgeons.”
Students have long opposed the vigorous amounts of testing, denouncing state tests like the FCAT to be cumbersome, especially when managing AP tests, semester exams, and ACT or SATs. It generally is not found to promote real growth.
“To me the ideal classroom is where involvement triumphs over reading and lectures, because they lack engagement,” said junior, Brian Nieves.
“Group activities and things that bring students together for projects and things should be the focus.”
“What we have is a cultural issue as much as it is an over involvement of politics,” said AP U.S. History and AP European History instructor, Jennifer Ordetx.
“If you’re trying to just meet the standards, there’s no emphasis on the importance on education. It’s not what you get out of it, it’s about how can I get ahead of everyone else.”
This competitive drive of scholarly cutthroats breeds what many teachers find to be lacking, where students involve themselves too much into their academic standing while losing their merit as scholars.
“The hardest thing may be getting student’s interested, making a class relevant,” said Collins.
“We as educators have to meet the changing needs and interests.”
This extends to opening students to the world, to re-examining their place and what it means to be educated.
“My mission is try to tell my students the world operates a certain way,” said Carabine.
“I try to prepare them for the real world.”
What teachers and students suggest is taking the money and politics out of education, and introducing more opportunites to learn, even outside of the classroom.
“There are things like ELP to extend learning,” said Nieves, “but they are limited because some students aren’t able to get as much help outside of class as they may need. Students need to take advantage of their education and get the most out of it.”
If, as a nation, we let teachers focus on their interactions with the classroom, and drive the corrupting force of money and politics out, perhaps the ideal environment may harvest fresh fruit for rotting vegetables.
Anthony Campbell // Staff Writer