Teachers reveal how education has changed dramatically over the past 20 years

A lot has happened since today's college graduates were born. A handful of long-time teachers reflect on those changes.


Across the US, thousands of college graduates are taking the final steps in their education.

A lot has happened since they were born in the mid-1990s, and perhaps no one has seen the effects of those changes on future generations than teachers.

Business Insider spoke with a handful of elementary, middle, and high school teachers to get a sense of just how much the US education system has evolved over the past 20 years.

Anita Perry — Title 1 teacher from Pepperell, Massachusetts

Perry has been teaching since the 1970s, off and on between a regular teacher and a Title I teacher who provides extra instruction for struggling kids. In recent decades, she says two things have stood out about students:

The first is that more is expected of them academically in kindergarten. The other is she has to deal with more kids who have conditions requiring medication, such as ADHD.

Schools have also experimented at length with different forms of instruction, from building classroom libraries to creating more structured reading series, Perry says. "Not one program fits all; and each time there's a new administrator, there's a new program! Then don't get me started about the testing."

Steve Isaacs — Computer technology teacher from Basking Ridge, New Jersey

Isaacs has been teaching for 25 years, primarily to 7th and 8th graders. He says tools like Google and Wikipedia have made it unnecessary for students to memorize facts as much as they did in the past. If teachers have access to technology like Google Chromebooks or iPads, they can individualize their lesson plans to almost every student.

Hope Rigby-Wills — Special education teacher from Houston, Texas

Rigby-Wills has been teaching since 1996. Within just the past five or six years, parent involvement has gone way down, she says. "

laments the "college-bound-only culture," and wishes there were more avenues for kids to pursue after high school, such as vocational programs.

Steve Sonntag — Spanish and German teacher from Modesto, California

Sonntag began teaching in 1970. He says the biggest changes have come in what schools and parents expect from teachers, and what parents expect of their kids.

Teachers are generally more relaxed in their teaching style, but still held to a higher standard of accountability given that they have to post grades, absences, and assignments online for parents and students, he says. Meanwhile, students are under much more pressure to keep up solid GPAs to maximize their chances of getting into college.

"Many students become frustrated and stressed with the high demands of their classes," Sonntag tells Business Insider, though he does say there can be an upside. "

Charlene Vermeulen — Assistant principal from Carthage, North Carolina

Vermeulen started teaching in 1991. A lot of the changes she's seen have been negative, she says.

Kids are still getting into mischief at similar rates as they used to, but "t


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