So have I. Yet here we are as successful intelligent adults.
How did this happen?
I was lucky enough to be born with artistic and musical talents and be eligible for a magnet school.
I also learn well on my own or with little direction.
Unfortunately, not every child can.
But this is besides the point. Why are these terrible teachers allowed to keep their jobs? Possibly the most important jobs in our society.
First of all, thank you for responding, but this is not besides the point at all. I'm going to use your response as a basis for what I view as the major issues facing education in America today.
Why do we have students who drop out of high school, or graduate high school being functionally illiterate, or are unable to do age appropriate math? There are many factors, but teacher unions wouldn't even rank in the top five.
I will grant you one of your points right away. Bad teachers keeping their jobs. Hey, nothing pisses me off more than to see someone coast by while I do everything I can to help my students. They should be fired. But they don't matter in the way you think. Let's grant the premise that 10% of teachers are bad. Why do some students who get these bad teachers succeed anyway? They have what I would call a solid educational foundation.
This foundation has certain key factors.
Intrinsic motivation. The student has to want to succeed. They have to want to learn. Hey, not many us really liked school, but we kept going. My last hour class has an absentee rate EVERYDAY of about 20-25%. The only unknown for me is who exactly will comprise of that. You put a motivated student in our school system and we as teachers will get the job done.
Good parents. I've read so many studies over the years that you will excuse me for not quoting exactly, but a child who is read to when he is young is overwhelmingly more likely to excel in school over a child who wasn't. How many of us would have been scared to bring home a report card that had a bad grade on it? If parents don't guide their children and force them to do well in school, then what in the world are we supposed to do? Sure, we might be able to get through to a select few (and frankly that off chance is what motivates us everyday) but we can't do it in enough numbers to make a difference.
Home environment. Divorce... Abuse...Frequent address changes...Single parents...No parents... It is heartbreaking to know some of their backgrounds. It is not surprising, but often a child with such a disadvantage can't focus in school. Or you will have this problem: they will try in your class, but once they get home, all bets are off. They can't do homework, study, or anything else that is required of them to truly understand important concepts. Too many students on campus show up everyday, but don't lift a finger in any class. Why? It gets them away from home and they get a free meal. This transitions to their economic background. It matters. If it was just teachers, then we shouldn't see a difference between rich and poor zip codes. But we do and the contrast is stark.
To round out my top five, I would add learning disabilities and ELL status (aka is English is their second language. One problem here is that sometimes these students weren't even properly taught or are fluent in their original language).
Students need to have that foundation. Without one of those ingredients listed.... They can still do it. But without two or all three? You can fire any teacher you want and it won't make a difference.
There is more to say, but I'm frankly too tired to keep going.