An overwhelming majority of US officials agree that the federal government’s failure to properly train the nation’s teachers is to blame for the soaring rate of violent crime that has plagued the nation in recent years.
The National Education Association, a pro-education group that represents more than 100,000 public school teachers, said in a letter to Congress that it’s been unable to find a single teacher trained in the critical skills required to properly manage the federal bureaucracy.
The association also cited an alarming increase in teacher absenteeism, including the deaths of five students this year alone.
The union also said the current system of oversight for the nations largest school districts has allowed teachers to go rogue and be absent without pay.
“We know the system is fractured, and that it is a failure to develop effective systems and a culture of accountability and accountability,” said NEA President Jim Pasco, who also serves on the boards of several charter schools and the American Federation for Children, the leading national charter advocacy group.
The federal government has paid $13 billion in compensation to teachers since the mid-2000s to fix the broken system, which many see as a failure of oversight by federal regulators and the Department of Education.
But Congress has been slow to enact meaningful reform.
In 2016, the Obama administration paid $2.8 billion to help schools deal with the problem.
But after a yearlong review, the Education Department’s Office of Inspector General released a scathing report saying the agency had “failed to conduct an adequate review of the training and certification of more than 6,000 teachers and principals in its assessment of teacher performance.”
The agency’s inspector general found that the agency failed to follow its own training requirements and failed to adequately track teacher performance, which it said may have resulted in a teacher being “unable to effectively perform his or her duties as a teacher.”
A federal judge ordered the administration to pay $1.5 billion in damages to some students, but the court is currently reviewing a lawsuit brought by the National Education Alliance.
The agency has said it will appeal.
Last year, President Donald Trump ordered a review of school district oversight.
But Trump said the review would be completed by the end of 2019, which he promised during the presidential campaign.
That deadline has been extended, and some officials are concerned it will be too late.
In a letter Tuesday, Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said he is also concerned that the delay could have a devastating impact on the children in his district.
“I cannot believe that after having dedicated so much time and effort to this important issue, our government continues to be so unwilling to take any meaningful action to address the problems in our nation’s schools,” he wrote.
“There is no longer a way for us to properly assess how schools are performing.
And with no real progress being made on the issue, we must continue to ask the administration for a new direction.”
The White House has said the administration will continue to work with Congress to address teacher shortages, including a proposed bill that would provide an additional $1 billion for teacher training and education reform.
But for many, the lack of accountability has left them feeling like a burden.
“The only way to get a sense of what is happening in the classrooms is to go to school,” said one parent, who asked not to be identified.
“They don’t have accountability.
They don’t even have a set curriculum.
They are a blank slate, and it’s a nightmare.”