Recently our local newspaper ran two related articles about the future of education in Indiana and by extension, the United States.
Students hesitant to pursue teaching: Economy, politics linked to fewer education majors
Published: October 23, 2011 3:00 a.m.
Schools of Education in Indiana's colleges and universities are seeing a drop in enrollment. Fewer jobs, more academic restrictions and a growing unpopularity has taken its toll on the teaching profession.
Professor Michael Slavkin, director of teacher education at Manchester College:
...the Daniels administration, along with Superintendent of Education Tony Bennett, have been outwardly aggressive in their disdain for teachers. The discourse became particularly caustic during the recent legislative session, he said, when lawmakers passed legislation limiting collective bargaining rights, linking teacher pay to test scores and other measures.A shrinking job market, poor advancement, dependence on student test scores for evaluations, lowered status, lack of professional decision making opportunities, and lack of public support are all making the prospect of a career in education less appealing. The best and the brightest will, for the most part, look elsewhere for career opportunities. The teachers who remain will be overburdened with large class sizes, and hard-to-teach students. The constant attack on public education, public school teachers and their unions, has had a self-fulfilling effect on the profession.
“Obviously, the current political environment around education probably makes (the field) less appealing,” Slavkin said. “I think this is the most important job we have to offer college students. I think it’s the most valuable. And yet, I think I would probably second-guess right now if my children were to come to me and say they wanted to be teachers. It’s been a hard couple of years in Indiana for educators.”
In an editorial, Endangered Profession (October 25, 2011), the Journal Gazette editorialist wrote,
Double-digit enrollment decreases in education schools at area colleges and universities ought to be an early warning that something’s amiss in Indiana’s efforts to overhaul its schools. When students choose not to pursue teaching careers because of discouraging job prospects or unfavorable attitudes toward the profession, the very quality of education is at risk.We're gutting the teaching profession in a false reform and our children and grandchildren will suffer because of it. Punitive attacks on teachers and public schools has made the educator's job more difficult and less attractive.
Already nearly 50% of educators leave the profession in their first five years. With fewer people going into teaching, and a high attrition rate, our public schools are looking at a bleak future.