Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Why the USD Interim-Dean of Education Should Consider Letting Someone Else Try

I am not a product of USD.  I went to undergraduate school in Minnesota and spent a few years in graduate studies at South Dakota State University (GO JACKS!)  I picked my undergraduate school during my senior year in high school because, in part, they had a strong education department.  USD was never on my radar; however, my sister did go to school there and recently pointed out a very sad and disappointing article published in the USD paper, The Volante.  

In the paper the writer does a piece looking at why some students continue in a field in South Dakota that people like the Governor look at with such disdain; teaching.  For the paper, she interviewed the Interim-Dean of Education for insight.  

SIDEBAR- In my experience, too many of the people in the teaching of teachers business forget about the practical side of teaching and get too wrapped up in the theory of teaching.  The problem is this creates unprepared students to handle the different issues surrounding teaching.  This in part might be why some studies show that one half of all teachers will quit within the first five years.  

During the interview, Hee-sook Choi was quoted using some fairly standard catch phrases heard in Pierre.  Things like:
“Although salaries are low in South Dakota, not all of our students come to the School of Education thinking that, ‘I’m going to get into education to make money,’” Choi said. “Nobody does that — it’s just their passion.”
(I would like to think that all people are passionate about their jobs and not just in in for the money.  I would also like to think that teachers in Iowa and North Dakota are just as passionate as teachers in South Dakota, but no matter what, who does that justify paying low earnings?  Just because you are passionate, you don't worry about paying your bills?)

Choi said there is a percentage of students who leave South Dakota to return to their home area, so she does not think pay is the top factor students consider. 
“That’s where they came from, that’s where their families are,” Choi said. “There’s a comfort level there, so they tend to go back to where they’re from, or they’re wanting to have that proximity to their families.”
(Unfortunately, this ignores the issue of lack of students choosing not to go into education in the first place.   This ignores the data that a Interim-Dean of Education should well be know: the pipeline for teaching is drying up.)


Choi said the benefits of teaching and having a positive impact on children far outweigh what the income numbers might be. Plus, teachers are only on the clock for three-fourths of the year. 
“Yes, teacher salaries are not high, but when you think about the fact (the) job is not all year round — it’s a nine month job — you have your summer vacation and you work from 8 a.m. to, what, 3:30 p.m. and then, (the) day is over, so you still have all evening to do something else,” Choi said.
(I guess she agrees with Scott Walker and his attitudes about college professors, but to even phrase this in the first place is a slap in the face to all teachers.  For many the "something else" is grading papers, coaching sports, writing tests, or a part time job to help you pay the bills.  It becomes apparent that Ms Choi received grief about the statement because a "clarification" now appears at the bottom of the article.)

Ms Choi should not have asked for a clarification and complain that she had been taken out of context.  She should write a letter of apology to all of the teachers that have gone through USD for not fully appreciating the hard work that they do.  Because if she did, she would not have even thought to utter those statements.

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