Television, newspapers, online news sites and advertising headlines are instrumental in shaping public opinion. Pharmaceutical companies make outrageous claims about their magic pills while by law quietly and rapidly recite the horrendous side effects.
We are being told by the Department of Labor that unemployment has dipped to 7.7 percent. While at the same time millions of people have been taken off the unemployment rolls because they have stopped looking for work. It seems to be an absurd way to calculate unemployment. They realize when you add the people who have stopped looking for work the true unemployment has to be at least double the announced federal figure.
This double speak of government is working by desensitizing our values and wearing away our emotional and intellectual clarity. Citizens are being overloaded by ridiculous false figures that indicate things are good while our entire being says otherwise.
This same type of gimmickry is sadly working to disguise the obvious pathetic shape of our public schools. School officials devise slick formulas to arrive at a particular outcome that is far removed from the truth. The validity of a claim cannot be determined by accepting the headline on face value but only by delving into the process of how they arrived at the conclusion.
The current headlines throughout Florida say that public school educators excel. According to the headlines nearly 97 percent of all teachers have been graded as effective or highly effective teachers. Only 2 percent of teachers are considered to need improvement and only .5 percent were deemed unsatisfactory.
The methodology of determining the effectiveness of teachers was left up to each school district. It was supposed to be based on curriculum and student learning and performance increases. This data driven evaluation was supposed to scientifically differentiate teacher performance. The alliance between district school officials wanting to showcase their school performance and teacher unions protecting all teachers, especially the weakest ones, has produced these inflated results. Even with these incredibly favorable teacher evaluations, the Florida Education Association (union) has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of this method of evaluating teachers.
If these outstanding statistical headlines were valid, the United States would be ranked as the best place in the world to receive an education. In reality we are ranked 25th out of 34 developed nations in math and science. Our scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test, even after it was weakened, are lower when compared to scores of decades ago. The graduation rates vary according to the state and are as low as 1 out of 2 in certain urban areas.
These scams of the distortion of the truth by phony statistics are becoming part of everyday life and our social fabric. The prevalence of institutional lying is fostering cynicism and fatalism. It is the disintegration of America's faith in our leaders.
This has to be changed for the United States to remain the economic power in the world. Already bureaucratic "experts" are making proposals for a quick fix. One of these is a teacher test similar to the bar exam that a lawyer must pass to practice. However, the ability to be a good teacher should not solely be judged by the knowledge of the subject matter or answering pedagogical practices correctly.
Many people who did excellently in universities often do not make good teachers. Teaching is a dedication to help children learn and takes commitment and purpose. It is the actual daily, and yearly performance that should indicate a teacher's effectiveness. This job performance should be measured by students, parents, colleagues and most importantly, by the principal in the actual in-class teaching process, not by a paper and pencil exam.
It is being said that this will be the first generation to be less educated than their parents. To reverse this trend school districts should downsized their schools to 400 students or less to give principals more direct knowledge to manage the learning environment and actually evaluate their teachers. For this on-the-job evaluation to be meaningful we must bring schools back to the community.
Principals should be held accountable for the performance of students. Evaluating the staff should be the ultimate responsibility of the principal, not the school district or teacher union. Both these parties have political self-interest in inflating teacher's evaluations. Let's put an end to these false education headlines by becoming active in our neighborhood schools to ensure educational integrity.