Q&A Of The Day – Are Florida’s Teacher’s Qualified To Teach Civics (And Other Subjects)? Part 2
Bottom Line: If the average teacher is only about 50% proficient in the English language and about 20% confident in financial literacy, the question becomes what other potential weakness or even blind spots are there? My goal in sharing this information in response to today’s question isn’t as simple as condemnation of wide swaths of teachers, but the realization that generally our educators may not be sufficiently educated. When speaking of education issues generally, I’ve pointed to the straight-line decline the United States has suffered with education since the incarnation of the Department of Education in 1980.
Entering 1980, the first full year of operations for Department of Education, the average education outcome for Americans was 2nd in the world (with only Australians ahead of us). Over the next twenty years the United States slid to 17th from 2nd in education outcomes. I won’t dwell on how it’s currently worse that that because this is about our teachers. The average age of a public-school teacher is 42 (in Florida it’s 43). That means they would have begun their own education around 1983. They were part of the first generation to be educated during the precipitous decline in education outcomes in the era of the Department of Education. Aka, part of the first generation to be failed by the education establishment in this country.
It’s not fair to say we could be in a situation in which the blind are leading the blind, there are truly standout teachers and to ubiquitously indict the profession is wrong. However, back to where we started. We know most teachers aren’t financially literate and speaking of literacy...we know that the average teacher is only around 50% proficient with the English language. We also know 78% of Florida’s public-school teachers are members of the Florida Education Association which sued to attempt to stop classroom education from ever happening this year and most recently fought to stop the Florida Board of Education from banning critical race theory. The original question was how many teachers are qualified to teach Florida’s new civics curriculum? I wish that weren’t a good question, but it is. And based on what I’ve shared with you...what do you think?
I’m hopeful the pandemic provided parents with an opportunity to reassess their children’s education and to begin to question what’s really being taught or isn’t as the case maybe. Increased parental involvement. Increased local engagement with school boards and an improved Florida curriculum are good places to begin to make meaningful improvements in education. It won’t be fast and it’s not easy but it’s absolutely worthwhile.