Things are not always as they seem.
Here is a link that might be useful: 10 things your school district will not tell you
This is a better link -- starts on page 1.
sheilajoyce, I have been involved in education on several levels for more than two decades. I also know many educators who serve as teachers, faculty, staff, etc. The link I posted was forwarded to me from several of them because they see this every day. They live and work in several different states, in different regions of the USA.
I thought it was an interesting article. I am very happy with the schools my kids go to and feel that my kids got (and are getting) a very good education - better than the one I had. But I did see some of the points in the article played out in our school system.
I agree that teachers teach, or at least used to teach, subjects other than their specialties. I thought No Child Left Behind addressed that issue, but perhaps our local schools decided to change that on their own.
I also agree that it is very difficult in many schools to oust a teacher who has been at the school a long time. My son had a teacher who would come into class in the mornings, turn off the light, and sleep. She taught gifted 9th grade math, and she told the kids they didn't need her to teach them because they were gifted (they could learn it themselves). I heard that she was once a very talented teacher, but she had health problems and was just trying to make it to retirement.
My kids had other teachers who really shouldn't have been teaching in the classroom. If the teacher was relatively new in the school it seemed like their contract wasn't renewed the next year. But teachers who have taught for years get away with cursing students in class, poor quality of instruction, etc.
I also agree that the spending ratio isn't a good picture of the quality of the education, or even how the money is spent. An excellent teacher with a passion for educating kids can have an exciting class on a shoestring budget. It's not the spending ratio that makes a difference - it's the commitment of the parents and the teachers to learning.
I think it is rare that our local teachers give kids the answers to the standardized tests. But I do know that some teachers in some classes teach to the test all year.
I think our local schools are very good, and I am pleased with the quality. But I think that in education, like any other profession, there are things that get swept under the rug so to speak.
As a student, I did go through this, and this is completely accurate. To me, this is the norm. To the parents, you people should be up in arms about it. Get angry, because if you don't, it's going to stay like this, and your kid isn't going to get educated any faster.
Having spent 20 years in the educational system, I would just say, if you think the politicians in Washington spin, lie and misrepresent, they are amateurs compared to school districts.
I can't think of any other profession that has tenure - if a teacher can behave for the first two years (which comes to about 18 months, with days off, summers, etc.) he or she is almost un-fireable.