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Education - Teacher morale Last: 06/17/2015

Crisis in American education as teacher morale hits an all-time low

A slew of policies and technologies promising to dramatically revolutionize teaching and education over the past decade has not only failed to produce desired results, it has also led to a decline in teacher morale, with large numbers leaving the profession.

A recent report for the Alliance for Excellent Education, a policy and advocacy organization, found that about “13% of the nation’s 3.4 million teachers move schools or leave the profession every year."

The question is how did this happen? While the answers to the current problems are long and complex, some of them can be traced back to the road to reform starting in the 1980s when measurable academic standards were set up for students.

As a researcher and author of a 2012 book on education reforms in the US on top of being the father of children who are attending public schools, I have seen how these reforms have led to a situation in which teacher job satisfaction is at an all-time low and university graduates are less inclined to join the profession.

Teachers lost control of curricula

Over the past few decades, teacher professionalism and morale declined as education was turned into a market with a push for high-stakes testing and a centralized control of education.

Since the beginning of the latest rounds of education reform in the early 2000s, billions of dollars have been spent at the local, state and national levels on programs such as “No Child Left Behind,” “Race to the Top” and “Common Core.”

Supported by a wide variety of “reformist” groups, which include foundations, consulting firms, charter school and voucher advocates, neoliberal think-tanks and teacher-bashing politicians of both political parties, education reforms ended up making way for privatization, charter schools or voucher systems.

As a result teachers no longer control the curriculum as they should. This vacuum has been filled by a host of commercial companies that have developed products to be used both inside and outside the classroom.

They range from Professional Learning Communities, Competency-Based Education, Smart Boards, Khan Academy, Flipped Classrooms and Personalized Learning to name but a few on a very long list. Teachers in school have seen a variety of such ‘edu-fashions’ in the form of reforms, flicker and fade.

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