Is the overall culture of education toxic to our students? Joshua Katz, a high school math teacher in Florida, explains his position during his TEDx talk in 2014. Mr. Katz spends his days teaching “those students”. The students that society (typically) determines unteachable. “Those students” struggle with the college bound track that they are forced to endure due to the discontinuation of non-profitable classes. “Those students” are being dehumanized by the educational system, by not being offered a “life” track and by only being assessed for their ability to succeed by their test scores. It makes you wonder, is the system looking at students as people/individuals or is the system looking at students through the lens of the mighty dollar?
Katz informs us that, “We somehow took the education system that produced the individuals who put a man on the moon with technology less powerful than what’s in my pocket and characterized that education system as a failure using the word accountability”. How did this happen? Education is designed and dictated by corporations that are more focused on income than on the education of students. By using test scores to show that students and schools are “failing” corporations are able to push their agenda of selling more curriculum and/or textbooks to the schools. Unfortunately, neither educators or students are being asked why their students are failing or what do they think their students need to be successful.
As educators, we are all painfully aware of the stakes and the positions that students and schools have been pushed into. I believe that Katz’s message needs to be broadcasted to the general public to help enlighten individuals that believe that the issue is with the teachers yet don’t understand the system.