Author tells Baylor education students broken school system fixa - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

Author tells Baylor education students broken school system fixable

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An author who says 45,000 public school campuses across the country are failing to help students reach their potential is still encouraging college students to pursue a career as a teacher.

Ron Berler, who penned a book titled "Raising the Curve" after embedding himself in a Connecticut elementary school, says the system is broken, but it can be fixed.

Baylor's School of Education hosted Berler Wednesday for a brown-bag lunch with faculty and an early evening presentation to students interested in becoming educators.

Berler says his experience and research suggests schools are teaching below grade levels and spending too much time and energy giving standardized tests and not enough time focusing on core level studies.

"We need to take the punitive model out of testing," he said.  "Testing is making the number (of passing scores) or else, and the "or else" means teachers and administrators are protecting themselves," worried about their jobs, he added. 

He listed three steps to fix the broken system, starting with early stages at home.  "We need to have a national discussion on parental involvement in children's education.  Parents are the first and best teacher of their children," he explained.

"But in too many instances they're not sufficiently involved.  They don't read to them, don't go through flash cards," Berler added.

Schools are measured by the finished product, and in elementary schools that's the fifth grade, and in middle school the eighth grade.  Berler would like to see baseline tests in the third grade and then accountability exams in the fifth and eighth grades. 

But the gap widens as children get older, and the learning should start at pre-school ages, otherwise "they can never catch up, and that's not the teacher or student's fault, it's where they started from," he said.

But Berler insists students who have a passion to help young people should still follow that career path, because there's no better time than now for administrators to find answers and listen to new ideas.

The third way Berler said change can be facilitating is by voting for the right school board members.  Learn the candidates and what they stand for, and make your choice accordingly or the system is slower to change.

Tony Talbert agrees.  A professor in the School of Education at Baylor, he things parents, community leaders and educators need to come together and say "stop".  No one likes testing, he added, but accountability is good.
 
Baylor freshman Trevor Taylor is excited.  He changed his career path to education after some mentoring by an administrator and now wants to make a difference teaching at his old high school in San Antonio.

He admits being an educator initially will be tough. 

"If I go in as a younger teacher they will see me as a friend and walk over me and see me as vulnerable and try to take advantage of me, " he explained.  But observing his principal and a positive teacher to see how they handled students and parents will help him, along with knowing where they're coming from and some of the outside issues they face in his hometown.  That fuels his passion and will help him succeed, he says.

Parental involvement and adjusting standardized testing to focus on earlier formative years are to keys to that success, according to Ron Berler, along with the pride, resilience and faith of passionate teachers.  
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