Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Idaho-Schmidaho, what are you thinking?

Coming home tonight after a long day of first work, and then class, I began to ponder about what I could write about tonight.  As I sat in the parking garage, waiting for the long line of cars, filled with students soaking up knowledge, to pass through the gates, I considered endless possibilities.  Tenure, standardized tests, use of technology, lack of arts, child development, literacy…. Classes always get my mind churning, and I was having a difficult time focusing on just one topic.  So I decided that maybe I should start with what’s in the news today.  I started to browse education headlines for some fresh ideas.  I didn’t need to look long, because after only a few minutes of online surfing, I came across this eye catching article, which pushed aside any other inspirations:
By the time I finished the short article, my mouth was so far open, it would be easy to shove a whole fist into it.  And that is what I felt had happened.   I don’t even understand the reasoning behind this idea.  Other than saving money for the school district, I don’t see much value in it whatsoever.  As someone who has taken a few online classes during my collegiate career, purely for the sake of the convenience, I would never recommend it for someone if they could avoid it. No matter the material, or how well the technology is set up for the class, there are people who still need personal interaction to learn correctly.  Not to mention, isn’t this world moving to cyber-land enough?  I can’t imagine taking away the relationships that students get to have with their teachers, just to ‘save money’. 

I am beyond angry.  I do understand that every school district has a budget, and many are in the red.  Some schools are struggling to make ends meet.  Still it seems so frustrating the amount of teachers who are being cut throughout the country.  770 teaching positions seems absolutely preposterous.  This is the most farcical idea I have heard yet.  What’s next, getting rid or text books, cancelling music and art programs, getting rid of the heat… oh wait, there are some schools that are already doing this! 

Being one of the richest countries in the world, I am just baffled at the lack of importance we give our education system.  Our country would rather spend it on making another lame blockbuster, or building a new stadium, rather than putting resources into our schools.  I realize that this topic really is certainly not new, and there are many causes to consider.  But why is education one of the last?  All through the United States’ history, there have been examples of schools and situations that would blow the minds of the upper and middle classes.  There are schools that are definitely not suitable for any human being to walk through, let along stay in for 6 plus hours.  Yet, I continue to find numerous articles related to this topic, with no solutions to counteract them.   In addition, as a future educator, one of the scariest questions we must ask ourselves is, ‘will I get a job after I graduate?’  The economy is tough out there, and although it seems to be slowly getting better, it has a long way to go.  For most of my fellow grad students, we are changing our careers to follow our passions.  What if there are no jobs left out there? 

It would be one thing, if the school was justifying this change to online classes to benefit the students.  It’s nothing new that students need to learn to live and be in the cyber-world.  Technology is vast, and growing at a rapid rate.  But no matter how much someone tries to convince me, a computer will never replace the sensation of human interaction.  I only hope that I am not the only one that is at an uproar over this article. 

Related articles about budget cuts (it took me all of 30 seconds to find):


  1. The reality of these situations is extremely scary. Each day I drive to Mason, I ask myself if aftet earning my second degree if I'm even going to get a teaching job. Fortunately, if I stick around the Northern VA area, I'm fairly confident. However, it depends on the area. My aunt worked very hard on her Master's in Illinois and completed it about 10 years ago-- no teaching job in sight.

    The online school thing terrifies me. College courses? Maybe. But all people need classroom experience and face-to-face interaction with their peers and classmates. We can do everything online these days-- pay bills, order a pizza, etc. But education is something that needs to be done by actually leaving the house.

  2. Being a student that has taken online college courses at NOVA and at JMU, I do enjoy some of its benefits. When I needed a course that I could fit around my busy schedule of other more important classes and working, these were perfect. I was able to let myself procrastinate only enough to make me feel the stress of the foreboding deadline. As I continued to take these online courses, I got better at managing my time and trying to keep up pace, which in the end made it so much easier. However, do I think that these types of courses will affect students as greatly as face-to-face time? No. Most certainly not.

    If you didn’t notice my blunt statement above, which concluded that I took these courses because they weren’t as important as my Master’s classes and could be easily maneuvered into my already busy schedule, you now know that the best learning environment is when you are socially interacting with others in an integrated content based class, not online. Granted, there are many aspects that now increase the versatility of online courses, including video lectures and discussion boards, but none of the material seems to sink in as much as when you are literally immersed in it. After many years of school and learning time management through high school and college, I am able to successfully complete an online course with a feeling of greater knowledge. However, this does not come easily and because these abilities as well as self restraint and future planning are developed in parts of the brain that don’t always fully mature in children until the age of 18-20, it is not practical to think students in high school would succeed in this environment. Sometimes it is hard enough to get students just to attend, participate, and finish assignments in school, and that is with a teacher having face-to-face contact with the student five days a week. Without this added incentive of personal contact and interesting lesson plans, more students could drop out and less would give it the attention it deserves.

    I do also highly agree with the fact that it is very sad that our country wants to spend less money on our education and leave 770 more people unemployed. Their thought is that funding will be better spent elsewhere. I think that if our country wants to succeed not only economically, but also in creating a more aware and educated nation, it has to spend the money where the biggest difference can be made. This is in our youth, our schools and in our overall education system.

  3. I was reading the news on CNN.com and it seems that Providence,RI has the same idea, they have a multimillion dollar budget gap and are cutting teachers to solve this problem. Note to self, do not go teach up there....