First I agree that this is appalling and needs to be addressed. But before I go on lets get real about how things were in the so called “golden age” when a teacher taught 50 kids without the aid of a paraprofessional and never took breaks, and kids were allowed to be thrashed. Not that it did do me any harm (as I was one of those who never was) . No, I was just one of those who was publicly humiliated for being slow (ADD was not known about then). However let me tell you about my school in the good old days of the 1970s.
First the head teacher (who had survived Colditz) died of a heart attack in his office, then there was the art teacher was put in gaol for being naughty. Our music teacher taught us by showing us kids programs on TV. The RE teacher was often reduced to gibbering and in the end and in fact ended up breaking the skull of one of my class mates. The math teacher was known as the “happy wanderer” and the geography teacher was often intoxicated. Now that this myth of the good old days has been truly kicked in the subjective cojones lets address the issue.
I will be brutally honest. If teachers cannot take the strain of the class room then they should not be there. Buts lets be even more honest. There are parents who cannot take the stress of being parents and they should not be parents. They do not teach their children the basics (that I know is true because my wife who is a special education teacher told me that they would have to teach them how to use a tooth brush etc). Parents take no interest instead let them go to their rooms to play on their computers, where they exposed to all sorts of dangers, which includes the sexual variety. But the biggest problem is that that there is no communication between kids and parents, no interest in home work or what goes on in school.
The world has changed. Its pointless to look at successful countries like Finland, Japan or even China, until you address the real reason. The break down of community and the family.
My wife taught all over south Wales and all the teachers she worked with were caring and hard working professionals who cared about the kids they taught, and that is the key. She now leaves for work at 630am and never gets back before 630pm. She has not taken day (either personal or sick) in years. Many of her colleagues have not either but some are on anti depressants. There are more rules and regulations than in my day (thank God) so what I put up with does not happen. My wife does not have time for a break during the day, she cannot speak for others.
I think the answer is to repair the family, and provide the proper training for teachers that is needed, and smaller schools.
But let me hand over to someone who has some ideas. Robert Reich.