The Truth Hurts – Our Self-Inflicted Disease that is Politics in Education

by Rick McAtee on November 18, 2013


The Truth Hurts – Our Self-Inflicted Disease that is Politics in Education


The Truth Hurts – Our Self-Inflicted Disease that is Politics in Education

It is time for all of us to stop hiding behind the politics and face the problems we have created by allowing politics to run our education system.

It is not the Republican Party at fault.

It is not the Democratic Party at fault.

Those organizations, believe it or not, are made up of a variety of people with varying beliefs who should not be lumped into an all or nothing category. It makes it so much easier if we can place blame on a group.

It is also time to stop hiding behind children and take on the problems as the adults in charge. Having young children and young adults carry signs or write letters to officials about ideas and philosophies they do not understand, nor should they, needs to stop. Adults need to step forward and have that conversation out of the listening area of children. Issues need to be made and stand on their own merit, not by pulling on the “heart strings” of people by using children. Research is starting to show children are being hurt by being used as pawns in adult problems. They are experiencing fears and anxiety about issues they do not understand.

Does it really matter who is to blame? Truth be known, we all are to blame. I will start this conversation by exposing what we all know but do not want to say. The conversation continues if you can expose other issues that we all know but do not want to discuss.

1. Teachers are being required to discipline students who are out of control. There are students who do not belong in the classroom due to their behaviors. We can blame it on the teacher but the truth is these students disrupt the education of the majority due to their issues. We require teachers to learn how to deal with the problems. The error here is we are asking the teacher to do a task the research shows is very systematic, intentional, time consuming, and specific to the student’s needs. If the teacher follows the research and the plan, who will teach the other students who do not need this structure? We are losing good teachers not due to budget cuts or decreased funding, but rather to a lack of support and our inability to face the truth that all children are not the same and some need a different type of setting to learn. Good teachers are not allowed to teach, they are totally responsible for maintaining order in the classroom for a very small portion of students who need it. The others wait endlessly for something to be taught.

This problem was the result of a one-size-fits-all thinking. We had issues of some students being misplaced, prejudged, categorized and left in a placement for their entire school career. So we made laws and more laws to ensure that every student would be treated the same way. Do you see the flaw in that correction?

I challenge all readers to walk down the halls of the middle/junior/high schools that are failing and just watch and listen to what is going on. Take a quick inventory of what you see and hear in the halls, classrooms, office, cafeteria, and school grounds. Would you allow that to happen at your place of work?

Our education system is in part social but that is not the goal of education. Students must show respect, perform to a standard that requires effort, take pride in their abilities – not get congratulated on substandard work or be directed in an area where they are not skilled or able to succeed. Oh, I think I hit a big nerve! Yes, it is okay to tell someone they are not good at something. How else do you guide them to find their strengths? Dream it, Believe it, Achieve it. This motto is missing some critical steps. Dream it, Believe it, Attempt it, Practice it, Work hard, Achieve it. We have all had dreams and those led to a variety of choices and a series of events that eventually became what we wanted to do for life. We wanted to do it because we were good at it. We worked hard and achieved it. Many times we worked very hard at something that we learned was not really for us.

2. Administrators are being required to deal with issues through “non-reporting.” Too many expulsions do not look good. Too many suspensions do not look good. Too many referrals do not look good. Too many low scores will result in the school failing. I say too many students are learning they can do what they want, how they want, when they want and expect no consequence. I say the “non-reporting” is the number 1 reason for failing schools. It is great that we have stepped in and at least forced some issues to be reported and suspension to take place regardless of how it will look. When the Kindergarten child points his finger and says “Bang!” or brings a plastic toy gun to school, we make sure he/she is dealt with severely with no tolerance! How proud we should be!

My questions to you: Are you ready to look at what we have done to our education system? Are you willing to admit we need to stop blaming politics and discuss what needs to be changed without fear of offending anyone? Are you ready to admit children are different and require different needs? Are you ready to take on the children who are out of control and separate them from children who do not have those issues?

I was recently asked, “How do you get change to actually happen?” The answer is by first finding out if anyone wants change. Do you?

Rick McAtee

Rick McAtee

Rick McAtee

Rick developed Cracking the Code and Writing Steps to Success, intervention programs for older students. He is the author of several children’s books.Rick’s work has been featured on an ABC special, “Reading: Your ABCs to Success”, the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy and numerous newspaper articles. Rick taught for sixteen years and has an M.S. in reading. He works as a reading consultant and staff developer throughout the United States and Canada focusing on implementing programs for at-risk students. He serves on the board of the Marana Foundation for Educational Excellence.

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  • Julz

    The Department of Education in the Philippines established a school in my city, SPED, special education. It is suppose to be for the very bright and the very low IQs. Children have to go through a couple of tests and assessments to qualify.

    After reading your article, it dawned on me that I hear of the the very bright but have no idea what happened to the other section. Others would argue that everyone should be treated/educated the same way. Even the handicaps should be in the same classroom for them to have a normal life. You sure did hit a big nerve, is the current education system satisfactory? If wanting can we take up the challenge for a change?

    My take would be an education according to the child’s need or concerns.

    • Julz, Thank you for your comment; very much appreciated.


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