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The Most Important Challenge Facing Education?

For our launch at NPR Ed, we asked readers about the most important challenge facing education. Here's what they told us.


  1. You had no shortage of ideas about the biggest challenge facing education. First of all, there was finger-pointing, starting with parents.
  2. Others blamed teaching talent:
  3. And more specifically, older vs. newer teachers.
  4. Then again, politicians came in for some scorn, too.
  5. And the increasing influence of outside reformers--philanthropists, business leaders and technology types--also earned some harsh words.
  6. From Facebook: Chris Damgen Reforms that only add to educational bureaucracy and consultant services, rather than the classroom. Look at what has happened in Newark.
  7. From the blog:
    Currently, a big part of the problem is that many of the individuals behind education "reform" in the US have no background in education. Being a billionaire or a friend of Obama's doesn't mean you know anything effective about educating k-12 students. " — Maureen Ray
  8. Only one commenter actually blamed the students themselves.
  9. Many mentioned poverty and a lack of resources:
  10. A blog commenter said:
    "" "I am an ESL teacher in a building that has an astronomical poverty and homeless rate. Several of my students go home to families in which one or more people are illiterate...50% of our students are English Language Learners... When my students don't reach some arbitrary "proficiency" level created by non-educator billionaire's like Bill Gates does that mean, I didn't do my job as an educator? No. My students work hard and and I work hard. My students make a lot of progress but in many cases they are not starting on the same level as those who don't face the same challenges as they do. It's like they are starting a marathon 30 minutes later than the rest of the runners.…" — StephanieDuboisRivera
  11. And while we're on the topic of proficiency, others targeted tests as the number one issue facing schools.