What Teachers Wish Obama Knew About the Education System

The 2010 "Education Nation" summit took place this past week in New York City. It's goal? To discuss ways to improve a national education system that has fallen far behind that of other nations.

Earlier this week, President Obama made an appearance on the Today Show saying, "Historically, when we first set up the public school systems across the country, we were leaps and bounds ahead of the vast majority of countries around the world. That just is not true anymore. They have caught up and, in some cases, they're surpassing us, especially in math and science. It happened over decades. There are a lot of contributing factors. But part of the challenge, I think, for the entire country is to understand that how well we do economically, whether jobs are created here -- high-end jobs to support families and support the future of the American people -- is going to depend on whether or not we can do something about these schools."

AOL asked current and retired teachers this question: "If you could tell President Obama one thing about the education system in this country, what would it be?" Perhaps their insights can help shape future educational reform and the future job market for all Americans.

"The education system has become too focused on trying to fulfill the fairy tale that all children are college material and needs to return to preparing students for skilled jobs as well as college." -Pablo Solomon, former teacher, counselor, and educational consultant to the U.S. Department of Education.

"Don't always look at issues as being black or white with no in between There are cases where normal standards do not apply and we need to think outside the box a little bit." -Danny Kofke, special education teacher, Hoschton, GA

"I appreciate the efforts to improve education on a federal level by establishing well-defined national standards as long as they are not involuntary federally mandated standards. This smacks of trying to parent our children from the White House." -Reverend Don Russell, high school Philosophy & Ethics teacher, Jacksonville, FL

"A big issue in education is blaming and trying to fix schools in poor areas without acknowledging or fixing the social, cultural and parenting issues at play in under-performing districts. You can't blame or credit teachers when students have parents who do not value education or do not encourage hard work." -Karen L. Mallia, Assistant Professor/Advertising, University of South Carolina

"The biggest problem we face isn't unions or tenure or public schools vs. charters, it's an outdated system that's not based on educational theory or results-based learning techniques. The answer is not longer school years or more homework or increased discipline. The answer lies in empowering our children to drive their own education using creativity, innovation and fostering individual skills and gifts."-Randall Dunn, head of school, Bloomfield Hills, MI

"Continue to have higher expectations from everyone involved in education."-Michael Smith, school superintendent, Oakland, CA

"Walk a mile in my moccasins before judging public education. Every politician should substitute teach for a day, or better, a week. Teachers are crazy overworked. Do you really want to improve education? Double teachers' salaries and cut their class sizes in half."-Jackie Scherer, retired secondary school teacher

"We need to first look at evaluating the principals in the schools.They provide the climate and leadership for each of our schools. Children as well as parents need guidance and direction. This must ultimately begin with effective principals in our schools and involved parents in the home."-Ali Iorio, veteran educator, K through college, Orlando, FL

"Today's students are comfortable with technology. We need to provide schools with the classroom technology that will harness their technical ability (interactive whiteboards, learner response systems, parent involvement technology, etc.) Technology effects every industry and will be the main cog to drive our economy. Give schools the financial resources to implement technology and the teachers the professional development needed to foster growth."-Michael Becce, New Age Learning, Tinton Falls, NJ

"Invest in educators with relevant, research-based staff development, and with mentoring during the first three years of a teacher's career. Classroom teachers often come to their first assignment filled with theory, and little practical experience regarding how to manage a classroom effectively and how to reach their divergent learners. Studies have shown that well-trained experienced teachers are the most important aspect of resolving the issue of low student achievement. It is not uncommon for teachers who are unsupported and who lack training to leave education after a few short years. Investing in teacher with mentoring and excellent staff development helps a teacher feel successful, thereby reducing turnover."-Anne Swigard, President, Educational Training Specialists, Phoenix, AZ.

What do you think? What would you tell President Obama is the thing that we need to fix in the education system today to achieve a thriving job market and economy in the future?

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