I read through all of TeachThought's prompts as the 30-Day Reflective Teacher Blog Challenge began.
There are many challenges facing education today. Money. Philosophy. Policy. Students whose needs - physical, mental, emotional - are not being met at home.
Soon after I was reading a blog that gave the perfect answer to the question, "What do you think is the most challenging issue in education today?" I did not save the link and don't remember the exact sentence I read, but I thought as I read, "That's it!"
So...I will try to paraphrase best I can. And I apologize for not being able to give credit to the person who was much more eloquent than I will be.
I think the biggest challenge facing education is sort of two-sided.
One is that decisions are being made for and about education by people who really have no idea what it's like to be in a classroom. Administrators and teachers are often asked to implement policies that are out of touch with reality. Being the dedicated professionals they are, they do the best they can to fulfill what is required of them - and often perform miracles in the process.
The second, related side of the challenge (as I see it) is that schools, administrators, and teachers are often judged harshly, also by those who really have no idea what it's like to be in a classroom. Everyone sees him/herself as an expert in education (since everyone has been a student, according to the "open letter" that frequently makes the rounds on Facebook) and therefore able to make sweeping criticisms of those trying their best to do the job they were trained to do.
If administrators and teachers were asked for their input and allowed to be a bigger part of the decision/policy-making process, and if they were given the benefit of the doubt and treated more often like the trained professionals they are, I think the frequently-discussed "needed education reforms" would happen almost automatically.
EDIT: Thanks to a post on twitter, I found the blog of the "open letter" I was referring to. You think know what teachers do. Right? Wrong.