What does the U.S. Department of Education do?
In short, the DOE is an agency dedicated to creating and administering policies concerning all federal assistance regarding education for minors. The department was created in 1967 and still answers directly to the President regarding country-wide education policies and implementing laws created by Congress. Ultimately, the DOE’s goal is to develop American adults that can compete on a global scale and prepare them for excellence and independence once the minors eventually come of age.
In the end, all factors of education in the U.S., including funding, schools, policies, and curriculum, are decided upon by the Department of Education.
The Role of the Educator
Afifa Avril is a teacher whose been with the DOE for eight years. She shared some of her professional life, one that’s a constant struggle between loving her job professionally and not loving the paycheck.
“ I don’t think teachers are compensated enough,” said Avril. “I do think my school district has made efforts to fix that issue, but I noticed that most of my colleagues (myself included) struggle to live alone and many of us often have roommates, are married, or pick up second jobs to support ourselves.”
Consequently, poor compensation hinders a teacher’s ability to dedicate extra hours to children needing extra help. This leaves educators with the ugly task of choosing between making extra money to support themselves and fully investing in a student’s growth. According to Ms. Avril, this dichotomy has deeply affected the DOE’s retention rate.
“We often work outside of school hours to support our students, said Avril. “Educators with very high qualifications or those that don’t want to struggle financially often leave this career. Every year there is a shortage of teachers because we lose very smart people who want better-paying careers.”
Cheryl Manne, a New York City licensed teacher for the past 27 years, agreed with Avrilon on the lack of funding.
“Most teachers, even experienced ones like me, work more than one job. It is almost impossible to support a family, especially one in college, on one job alone, said Manne. Some teach at the local colleges, some tutor five days a week, some drive for Uber or Uber Eats, and some coach outside of the DOE. I personally work at Stop-n-Shop, but almost all have another job of some sort in addition to teaching. We make too much for financial aid or tax breaks but not enough to actually send kids to college or for extra things that many enjoy. During the summer, I take classes and always start planning for the next school year. None of this is compensated for.”
Discipline in the Classroom
Sometimes a career change is not always linked to a financial qualm. Lately, teachers have protested the lack of respect they receive as educators from other DOE employees and, most egregiously, the students they’ve dedicated their lives to.
Recently a video emerged displaying an interaction between a substitute teacher and a child in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, on April 17, 2023.
The video shows a student demanding to have her phone back after having it confiscated. When the substitute teacher firmly tells her no, the student attempts to push past the teacher and retrieve the phone herself. The substitute physically blocks the student while firmly telling her not to touch her and demanding that she return to her seat. The situation escalates when the student swings and they both begin fighting. The public has been divided about who is at fault in this altercation, but both parties were charged with assault.
“Parents usually have the most decisive influence when it comes to changing their child’s behavior,” said Avril. “Parents should make sure any form of disrespect towards an educator is not tolerated and the discipline or consequence for such an action should come from home.”
Others claim that teaching and controlling unruly students is part of the job, given that not all students come well-behaved and wrapped up nicely with a neat bow. Arguably, a good part of teaching requires reforming youth who may not have had the proper guidance or support to be where they should be in terms of their academics and their conduct. The adult in the room is thereby charged with guiding them in the right direction.
“A lot of these violent and disrespectful behaviors come from the home,” said Manne. “It is not something kids are born with but something learned. I think parents need to see that and if it isn’t happening at home, then where are they learning it from?
Manne circled back to the concept of accountability when it comes to their child’s behavior in school.
“Parents need to be involved in their child’s life without enabling them or making excuses for bad behavior. Know your child and model at home the behaviors you want them to see and mimic.”