Since returning from the NASATweetup for the last launch of the Space Shuttle program, I have been doing a lot of thinking on this topic.
I never thought that we would see a day when the Shuttle/Orbiter program ended and yet, we did not have already completely thought out another way to put man/woman in space, on an American made product.
Here is why I think this is happening, in no particular order:
1. "Role Models", our children's role models have gone from being Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Bob Crippen, Sally Ride, and Kathryn Sullivan, to being Shaq, LeBron James, Tom Brady, Aaron Rogers, Casey Anthony (just checking that you are paying attention!)
In other words society values sports figures and criminals more than it does scientists! Sports stars quite frankly are over paid, spoiled rotten, and a lot of the time? crooks!
2. Teacher Pay: Teacher's salaries have not kept up with the times. Back in the 70s a first year teacher and a first year lawyer made comparable salaries, with a slight edge to the lawyer. Now days a lawyer makes at least $30,000 more than a teacher, and that is a bare minimum.
When it was affordable and competitive to become an educator, people every where wanted to do it. Even the ones who could have a job doing almost anything in the science and technology field. Now unless teaching is your passion (which it is for 99% of teachers out there), why would you get a degree in education when you can get a degree in a science or technology field and get a job in that field that pays ALOT more?
3. Continuing education for teachers in science and technology fields.... is not cheap, and professional development classes are not cheap. See #2 above, low pay means no money for out of pocket classes. The dedicated ones will find a way to pay for classes, but it stretches many too thin.
4. Money, Money, Money, Money, No one seems to be spending money on the important things in life, meaning education, and our children. Education spending has been cut until it is about to die a slow death. Science education can not happen with out resources, and without money it is hard to get those resources.
I can not figure out what is wrong with America that we cut funding to education the way that we do. We are supposed to be the BEST country in the world, however with all of these budget cuts we are falling quickly to China, Japan, etc.
5. Parents.... quite frankly we as parents are letting our children and our country down. Parents are not talking to their children about the importance of doing well in school. Too many parents these days are not listening to the teacher when the teacher talks to them about a behavior problem in the classroom. The student is always right, and the teacher is always wrong. Behavior in the classroom is in the parents mind never the fault of their own child but the fault of the teacher. Grades are not where they should be because according to the parent the teacher didn't teach, not because the child didn't do their homework.
Parents do not believe that their child should have to do anything at home, they should not have to do the research projects at home that we had to do 20 years ago. They should not have to read every night and write about what they read, they should not have to practice their multiplication facts at home.
Quite frankly parents have become a helicopter society, one that does everything for their children, and gets their children out of everything under the sun. Then when the child goes into the real world, the child can not handle it.
6. NCLB and standardized testing. Quite frankly even though I hate "teaching to the test" and I try to just teach to the standards, teaching to the test happens. We have to teach the kids how to read the questions, how to deduct the right and wrong answer choices, how to just take tests in general.
I am a firm believer in using cross curricular projects that challenge our students to think outside of the box, and use multiple intelligence and quite frankly standardized testing does not do this.
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