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Challenges Facing Education - Teacher Qualifications, Part III

Teacher qualifications is a major issue. Closing schools can accomplish getting


rid of poor performing teachers. However you know about the saying of throwing t
he baby out with the bath water. That is what is happening here. If a teacher is
not performing well, it is the responsibility of the principal to deal with the
problem. If the principal is not living up to his or her responsibilities, the
local school council or the highest level of management should step in and deal
with that principal. But that is not happening because our schools would not be
in such bad shape if everyone were owning up to their responsibilities. The buck
is being passed up, down and sideways. The cost here can be measured in terms o
f student failures and payment for services not rendered.
To digress a bit, here in Chicago, the public schools are run by local school co
uncils. Each school has one. The school council members are residents of a neigh
borhood who run for office and are elected. They hire the principal and have bud
getary responsibilities. So, there are different levels of management here in th
e school system. This form of school oversight is somewhat new. The Chicago Scho
ol Reform Act was enacted into law in 1988, and the first local school councils
were elected a year later.
What about that teacher who is competent and doing everything possible to teach
his/her students? If rated fairly by their principals, this would not be a moot
point. Student test scores and performance are at issue. To be fair to all teach
ers, every facet of learning is not controlled by the teacher. Student home life
and abilities are not under the control of the teacher. The socioeconomic statu
s of the child's home life is a great factor in determining student success. Par
ents with greater education can surely do much more to ensuring their child's su
ccess in school than parents with lesser education. The child's innate abilities
must also be taken into consideration. All children do not learn at the same ra
te. But the amount of homework a teacher assigns can help children's progress. I
nstilling a good foundation from which children can learn is necessary. Encourag
ing and fostering a climate to ensure that learning can take place is essential.
The teacher should have a good understanding of the subjects taught and the pre
sentation skills necessary to convey them to the classroom. For someone who has
been competently executing the job of teaching students to the best of his/her a
bility and having the skills necessary to do so should not be summarily dismisse
d when a school is closed.
Even for the best, teaching can be a complex undertaking. When children misbehav
e very badly, it can be daunting. Teachers today have more to deal with than sim
ply student achievement. Help from their principals and administration should be
forthcoming to aid in the learning process. They should neither feel intimidate
d nor coerced in getting their job done.