Failing to Reach the Finish Line: A Polemic of the Unchecked Educator

Disclaimer: If you don’t like/can’t understand satire, please don’t read the following post!

After decades of completely unchecked frivolities, teachers (if you can really call them that) of the twenty-first century are finally beginning to be held accountable for their lethargy that has doomed America to centuries of failure and has led us to the very back of the pack on the world stage. Performance that would never be tolerated in any private sector job has been allowed to persist in the classroom for decades; evaluations in nearly every professional career besides teaching are performance-based and rely upon real, measurable data. Education, until now, has somehow been exempt from any form of accountability. We as a nation have said ‘enough is enough;’ we will no longer stand idly by while these so-called public servants suck us dry of our hard-earned resources and fail to produce any results.

Finally, school districts nationwide are taking the private sector’s lead and beginning to demand results.  Currently, nearly half states have moved toward incorporating student test scores into the teacher evaluation system, many of which affect teacher pay and even future employment.  (Smith) In other words, the days of the lazy, overpaid teacher are hopefully no more.

The move toward accountability has already produced measurable results.  Students nationwide are now more prepared for multiple-choice tests than ever, which proves that they are completely ready to enter the dynamic and competitive marketplace.  Michelle Rhee, the face of accountability-based education reform, boasts of unmatched student growth in Washington D.C. schools due to higher standards for educators. “Under her leadership, the worst performing school district in the country became the only major city system to see double-digit growth in both their state reading and state math scores in seventh, eighth and tenth grades over three years” (studentsfirst.org). Now, these students who can select an answer choice from four options can be the innovators and creative thinkers that we can rely on for our future success as a nation!

Unfortunately, the increased accountability of classroom teachers has been isolated to the core subjects, primarily reading and math.  And while reading and math are important, we will continue to do our children a disservice if we fail to hold our physical education teachers by the same high standards.

Physical education is foundational to our children’s health and well-being, both now and for their entire adult lives.  Quality physical education programs provide children with improved health, better motor skills, a method of stress reduction, and opportunities for close peer relationships (NASPE).

The PE teachers of today are responsible for creating the athletes of tomorrow.  Not only does China continue outshine us in math, science, and engineering, but they also dominate the worlds of gymnastics, diving, and table tennis.  How many more Olympic Games will pass before American wins the marathon, the 100-yard-dash, the cricket championship?  America’s gym teachers have embarrassed us time and again; it’s time to hold them accountable for their mistakes.

And it’s not just on the world athletic stage that the shortage of quality gym teachers has reared its ugly head.  Many health experts agree that America’s obesity epidemic can be directly and solely linked to poor quality instruction in the school gymnasium.  Effective physical education has been loosely associated with lower rates of childhood obesity (Datar and Sturm); hence, one could deduce that 100% of the time, the better the gym teacher, the lower obesity rates would be among his/her students.

Because of physical education’s importance to our children’s success, both individually and as a nation, it is crucial that our PE teachers begin to produce results. We’ve allowed logistical concerns to get in the way of the well-being of our children for too long.  It is imperative that we invest in measurable assessments of student performance in physical education.  As a solution to our epidemic of teacher indolence, I propose implementing a nationwide accountability program across all grade levels and socioeconomic backgrounds that uses students’ mile run times to evaluate physical educators’ performance and determine their job security.

With such a dramatic overhaul of the status quo, critics will certainly emerge, particularly people who fear any real responsibility.  Below, I will attempt to address some questions and criticisms that will surely be posed by insatiable teacher unions:

What about physical education teachers that teach in areas with already-high rates of childhood obesity?  Aren’t teachers in these schools at a disadvantage?

  • Teacher evaluation will be based on growth data, not proficiency data. (Or I suppose in this case, shrinking data!)

What will happen if students fail to reach grade-level performance on the mile-run?

  • We are not doing students any good by promoting them to higher grades if they have failed to perform at grade level.  For that reason, promotion standards will now include grade-level performance on the mile-run.  For example, before being promoted to the 6th grade, students will need to be able to run the mile in under ten minutes. These standards should be implemented nationwide, and without exception.

What about students with special needs and physical handicaps?  Will they be required to run the mile?

  • All students will be required to take the mile-run assessment, regardless of disability.  Students with documented disabilities, however, will be provided with testing accommodations that will completely level the playing field.  For example, students in a wheelchair will be permitted to wear gloves to provide traction, or students with life-threatening asthma will be allowed to carry an inhaler with them at all times during the testing procedure. These accommodations will ensure all students’ ability to reach grade level standards required for promotion.

How will mile run times be regulated?

  • To implement a fair and accurate testing procedure, students from 2nd grade and above will complete a yearly mile-run exam.  The test will utilize the ChampionChip Timing System to ensure accurate timing.  Teachers will not be allowed to test their own students, and proctors will be present to watch for dishonesty.  Admittedly, these procedures will incur some expense; the steep expenses of testing procedures will come directly from teachers’ exorbitant salaries.

By implementing a robust plan to hold physical education teachers accountable for producing measurable results, we will guarantee a bright future for our children.  More importantly, however, it will empower honest taxpayers to stop unconditionally emptying their pockets for the selfish state employees who claim to act in our kids’ best interest without actually producing any results.

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/03/education/debating-how-to-give-texas-teachers-useful-feedback.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

http://www.studentsfirst.org/pages/about-michelle-rhee

http://www.aahperd.org/naspe/publications/teachingTools/whyPE.cfm

http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.94.9.1501

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