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Time to Rant

Accountability is a big buzz word in education. The schools must be held accountable for providing a free and public education that is fair and equal. The teachers must be held accountable for TEACHING THEM ALL. The administrators must be held accountable for keeping them in school and hiring effective personnel. The list goes on. But nowhere on this list of accountable-ness does one see the student or the parent. This makes not one lick of sense to me.

Our nation has perpetuated the American Dream to mythical status. The American Dream is no longer something to strive to achieve but something people have come to think they DESERVE regardless of the effort they are contributing. This can be seen in all levels of society but it is crippling our nation’s youth beginning in the educational system and will have more far reaching consequences than anyone can realistically foresee. I believe the current climate of accountability has caused this crisis.

It has become the teachers’ and schools’ faults when students do not perform. It is the teacher whose name is published in the paper when the student does not meet educational goals. It is the teacher who is questioned when the student fails a test or class. It is the teacher who is scolded when assignments are not turned in or when parents are ignorant of the student’s academic progress. In my experience, at no time is the student actually HELD to a standard to complete work, attend school regularly, account for poor grades, or take responsibility for unlearned material.

The vast majority of educators and administrators are sincerely invested in student success. The emerging culprit in today’s schools is the student himself. But in our increasingly litigious society, it is not acceptable to blame the student or parents. However, if we are honest, one of the biggest challenges facing educators is the apathy and immunity of the student. Parents don’t want to believe that their student isn’t capable or, worse, that their student just doesn’t care. So, blame the teacher and blame the school.

It is a wearying position for educators to maintain. Making the right decision about how to educate students becomes exponentially more difficult when one is constantly worried about defending those decisions to parents who defend their student’s lack of work ethic. Maintaining a grasp on a student’s true abilities is tenuous at best when the student is moved from class to class every time the teacher gives a grade the parent doesn’t like or a consequence the student feels is unfair. Planning, preparing, and scoring student work becomes secondary to contacting parents to preempt accusations later that the student wasn’t given the opportunity to make-up/redo/get another copy of the assignment they were already given time to do in the classroom.

Good educators are leaving the classroom in droves and it’s all because of this new brand of Teflon student. Nothing that the student does (or doesn’t do) sticks to her permanently. It can all be wiped away by pointing fingers at every entity except the one that should be the most accountable of them all: the student who needs the education in which she refuses to participate.

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