Examining the Barriers to Excellence in Our Schools

Monday, October 22, 2012
SNHU Communications Office

Dr. Betsy Gunzelmann believes our country is at a crossroads, one that could result in our children not being able to compete in a global society. The alternative, however, means breaking down the barriers that prevent excellence in our schools, which will allow children to prosper, contribute and lead. While Gunzelmann feels the choice should be obvious, she acknowledges that resolution isn’t simple or readily apparent.

The former chair of SNHU's Psychology Department and a professor of psychology at the university since 1996, Gunzelmann recently released her third book, ''Barriers to Excellence: The Changes Needed for Our Schools.'' The book addresses the educational problems in the U. S. today with a fresh viewpoint, evaluating the academic decline nationwide throughout the last 30 years and focuses on what needs to be done to reclaim educational excellence. Gunzelmann analyzes the barriers to excellence in education – societal and cultural, political, economic, psychological and educational – and provides three steps toward breaking down those barriers.

Gunzelmann's previous books, ''Hidden Dangers: Subtle Signs of Failing Schools'' and ''Hidden Dangers to Kids' Learning: A Parent Guide to Cope with Education Roadblocks'' have been lauded as insightful examinations of the current education systems for both educators and parents alike. The books pose questions, offer options and solutions to consider, and discusses the inherent dangers of overlooking the issues related to many of the norms in our school systems today.

While Gunzelmann's academic background is firmly grounded in education, with a B.S. and M.S. in elementary education, an M.S. in guidance and counseling and a Ph.D. in humanist education and human services, her interest in and love of education was ingrained early on. Her late mother was a teacher and reading specialist who serviced 13 schools in Arlington, Ma. ''Her backseat was full of books,'' said Gunzelmann.  She instilled a love of books and learning in her daughter, who was taught to read at just 3 years of age. ''She was a strong influence on my life,'' said Gunzelmann.

Her own experienced in high school and college, as well what she encountered as a parent to her now college-age son, influenced her interest in school climate and its affect on learning.  Gunzelmann changed high schools, moving from Arlington to Lexington, Ma., after the death of her father. Prior to the move, she said she hated history. Suddenly, she loved it and eventually realized the change was due to both the teacher and the climate of the new school environment. As an undergraduate student at Salem State College, she quickly learned to hate it once again and believed it was also based on the climate and professors. ''So much of school climate is negative,'' said Gunzelmann.

However, she believes that we are a country of mostly good teachers who need more training and deserve more respect. In ''Barriers to Education,'' Her books are available on BN.com and Amazon.com.


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