Hopefully, we can understand different conditions from all over the country, and this will help us put our own situations into perspective, allowing us to shape policies that can be applied to a national as well as a local level.
- Tell us a little about your profession.
- Describe the school system in your area/state.
- What do you see as the biggest impediment to improving schools, locally or nationally?
- I am currently a graduate student getting my master's degree in ESL. I hope to teach ESL at the community college or university level. My specialization is materials development and pedagogy. I also have a substitute teacher's certificate, and taught a high school equivalency course for adults.
- I live in Hawaii, where the schools are ranked #42. I went through the public school system, so I do have some first-hand experience. Generally, the southern portion of Oahu (where Honolulu and Waikiki are,) has the best schools, but the vast majority of schools are on the edges of the island. In my experience, the constant immigration to the edge schools reduces their performance, but the students in the southern portion do as well or better than their mainland counterparts.
- Currently, there are 3 things hindering educational reform here:
- Teacher's union is too powerful and is controlled by the most senior members who don't want to change what they are doing.
- Felix Consent Decree: almost all schools cannot afford to do the required changes, so money for books, supplies or teachers goes to construction. I've heard stories of kids not allowed to take textbooks home anymore.
- The elected school board is comprised of politicians, not educators. There is a superintendent of education, but the last 3 were run out of town and now nobody wants the job. The politicans don't want to make drastic changes that the educators are insisting on.