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Old 01-15-2009, 09:24 PM
 
454 posts, read 603,073 times
Reputation: 478

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This is a theory that a friend of mine, a CA public high school teacher has on improving public schools. Want to see what everyone thinks.

1. Eliminate all private, parochial, magnet and charter schools. Everyone
must attend their neighborhood public school. Don't like your
neighborhood public school? Move to a different neighborhood. Better
yet, invest your time and resources in improving your neighborhood
school.

2. Equalize funding (by making it less dependent on property taxes) so
that the same amount of $$$ is spent per child, regardless of whether
the neighborhood is lower, middle or upper class.

3. Bring back tracking. Not the tracking of old that was rigid and based
strictly on standardized testing. Base groupings on a portfolio of
students' work over time. Make the groups fluid so that as students
improve, they can move into the higher level tracks.

4. The one alternative to the neighborhood school is an alternative school
for the riff raff that are disrespectful and disruptive to everyone
else's learning. (i.e. defiant behavior, cursing at teachers,
threatening/violent behavior to staff or students, etc.)
Perhaps the alternative school could be like a military boot camp or
held at juvenile hall. Stop bending over backwards for the few kids
that don't care to learn and put the energy/resources on kids who
want to learn.

5. Stop the indiscriminate inclusion and mainstreaming. How is a general
education teacher supposed to adequately teach a student whose
performance or ability is a few to several grades below grade level,
especially considering that many gen ed teachers have next to no
training on implementing various accomodations and
modifications? What about when the student is virtually non-
verbal; with their verbal language being echolalic? What about
students whose primary disability is ED/BD (emotional/behavioral
disturbance). Again, why do the majority of students have to suffer
in order to accomodate children who act out and are continually
disruptive?
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Old 01-15-2009, 09:34 PM
 
12,913 posts, read 19,787,452 times
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#1: Absolutely no chance of that happening, although I don't like the monies syphoned off to charter schools. People do have the right to educate their children as they see fit, and I don't object unless public schools funds are involved (as in charter schools).

#2: In an ideal world, it would work that way. Isn't it true though that inner city schools are generally well-funded through various educational initiatives and grants? There is too much money spent on administration that should be spent on students and teachers. Upper income areas don't always have more dollars per pupil, but they do have active parent groups raising funds, and community involvement contributing to school resources.

I agree with 3-5, for the most part. I would like to see a return of vocational type classes. Not everybody needs to prepare for a profession that requires a college degree.
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Old 01-15-2009, 09:42 PM
 
Location: Middle America
35,817 posts, read 39,346,783 times
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Smaller class size.

All students benefit from as individually tailored education as possible, and the individual attention decreases, obviously, the more students there are in the classroom. Larger classes are also prone to more severe behavioral issues and more likely to induce management problems, and teachers who spend all their time doing mob rule crowd control get very little teaching done. No mob, no mob rule.

That said, MOST of the things that would truly improve schools/education, public or otherwise, are things schools can't do. Parents need to start teaching their kids and parenting their kids. Poor parents do a far more effective job mucking up a child's educational future than any teachers ever could. For schools to improve, parents need to stop forcing the school districts to raise their children for them.
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Old 01-16-2009, 04:03 AM
 
Location: FL
1,943 posts, read 7,627,049 times
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I agree with all.........but I also think there should be done to hold parents more accountable. We teachers are held very accountable........but I have had.....and see children in other classrooms, friends of my own children.....that act awful, and it is due to the parenting.

I don't have time to give examples of how to hold parents accountable.....I do have ideas, but I have to get ready for work!!
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Old 01-16-2009, 06:09 AM
 
4,007 posts, read 9,885,827 times
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Does your friend have children of his/her own?

I felt somewhat the same about #1 until I had school age children. I now feel quite differently. Having a one size fits all education just simply does not work for the 10-20% of children who are very out of the box thinkers/learners. One of my three children is like this......he needs a different kind of education. My other 2 children will do well wherever they go.

BTW: I am a former CA high school teacher.

Dawn
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Old 01-16-2009, 06:10 AM
 
4,007 posts, read 9,885,827 times
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Really? So it is the parents' fault that a child has ADD, ADHD, or whatever? I think you are making far too generalized a statement here.

Dawn

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs.Bewitched View Post
I agree with all.........but I also think there should be done to hold parents more accountable. We teachers are held very accountable........but I have had.....and see children in other classrooms, friends of my own children.....that act awful, and it is due to the parenting.

I don't have time to give examples of how to hold parents accountable.....I do have ideas, but I have to get ready for work!!
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Old 01-16-2009, 07:31 AM
 
12,454 posts, read 27,069,551 times
Reputation: 6946
Just because a student has ADD or ADHD (or actually any kind of learning disability) should not mean that they can be disruptive or that the parents cannot teach them how to be respectful. As a parent, not a teacher, I agree that bad parenting is to blame for many problems in the schools. Many Parents don't seem to hold their kids accountable for their actions. The above statement does not apply to all kids or all parents.

I'm not really sure how schools can be improved because it's a multi-layered mess that we've gotten ourselves into. First off, schools vary too much to make blanket statements. For instance Mattie's statement in post #2 about inner city schools being better funded is not true in PA. In PA, the richer the district, the richer the school. City schools have a reputation for being underfunded and understaffed.

Standards are different not only state to state but even district to district. The academic standards can be interpreted differently according to how you read them. I'm not sure how much I like them anyway. In our district, the result of the standards means that there is little leeway for any kind of career exploration because the majority of the classes are mandated. The only choice is what level of the core classes you want to take.

I agree with the idea of more vocational training but this is only going to work if we as a society, stop acting as if people that work with their hands are somehow not as intelligent as people that do no manual labor. When was the last time you saw on tv (other then a reality show) a show depicting a hero as a carpenter or an electrician?
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Old 01-16-2009, 08:01 AM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
84,962 posts, read 98,795,031 times
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Colorado has made a lot of strides towards #2. The School Finance Act has limits on how much money a district can raise above a baseline (15%), and the state gives money to poorer districts to equalize funding. It's not perfect, but it's a start.
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Old 01-16-2009, 09:28 AM
 
148 posts, read 559,489 times
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I personally think that the public schools can improve only when they are forced to compete, and when parents are given the choice of spending their tax money (the school system says it spends on a child) to spend on a school of their choice. They should also fire incompetent teachers/administrators and hire better qualified teacher. In most cases, public schools pays more in salaries, benefits and vacations than private schools to its teachers and still hires non performing and incompetent staff.
Why should a parent move if they do not like the neighborhood school? The money should be pegged to a child and the parents should be able to spend in whichever way they want. If the neighborhood school does not attract the students, it will disappear!
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Old 01-16-2009, 09:30 AM
 
1,428 posts, read 2,772,068 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KardoulaMou View Post
This is a theory that a friend of mine, a CA public high school teacher has on improving public schools. Want to see what everyone thinks.

1. Eliminate all private, parochial, magnet and charter schools. Everyone
must attend their neighborhood public school. Don't like your
neighborhood public school? Move to a different neighborhood. Better
yet, invest your time and resources in improving your neighborhood
school.
I actually think this would result in the opposite effect, with all due respect to your friend. I have taught at both public and magnet schools in several states and at a variety of socioeconomic levels, and from my experience -- limited though it is -- it is clear to me that the magnet schools, despite the fact that the kids who go there are by no means rich, are far better than their "zoned school" counterparts. The difference? The ability to choose. People tend to have far more invested in a system (or a school) when they themselves have had the choice to go there or to participate in it. Giving them that power enables them to feel (and genuinely so) as if they have a stake in their own education.

I'd also like to add that I believe the "Move to a different neighborhood" strategy has proven to be a dismal failure. Does the phrase "white flight" ring any bells? That strategy essentially (especially in the larger cities like NY, Chicago, DC, and Detroit) resulted in the polarization of schools (and neighborhoods) into the very wealthy and the very poor -- a situation which has ultimately resulted in some shameful educational disparities in this country. Again, with all due respect, I think we've BTDT as a nation and now we need to try a new tactic.

Quote:


2. Equalize funding (by making it less dependent on property taxes) so
that the same amount of $$$ is spent per child, regardless of whether
the neighborhood is lower, middle or upper class.
This, to me, would make far more sense because it would tend to eliminate or equalize the disparities between and among schools -- but I would also add that specific parental contributions to a school would have to be put into the "common kitty," as it were.
Quote:

3. Bring back tracking. Not the tracking of old that was rigid and based
strictly on standardized testing. Base groupings on a portfolio of
students' work over time. Make the groups fluid so that as students
improve, they can move into the higher level tracks.
Or simply have placement in the two core subjects (language and math) be done not by age, but by ability -- and reassess that ability every year or every semester and move up (or down) as the student needs. Tailor the education to the student, not the student to the education.

One reasonable objection might be that you might not want to have a third-grade reading class (for example) with everyone from 6-year-olds to pre-teens in it because of discipline and classroom management issues, but I think this is fairly easy to fix if you have two classes: an "older-kid third grade" and "younger-kid third grade."
Quote:


5. Stop the indiscriminate inclusion and mainstreaming. How is a general
education teacher supposed to adequately teach a student whose
performance or ability is a few to several grades below grade level,
especially considering that many gen ed teachers have next to no
training on implementing various accomodations and
modifications? What about when the student is virtually non-
verbal; with their verbal language being echolalic? What about
students whose primary disability is ED/BD (emotional/behavioral
disturbance). Again, why do the majority of students have to suffer
in order to accomodate children who act out and are continually
disruptive?
[/quote]

I would agree wholeheartedly. Even when you're not talking about the extreme cases you're discussing above, the fact that an elementary school teacher teaching reading (and that's not even counting in the fact that she also teaches math, science, et cetera) has to accommodate learners across the spectrum and across all grade levels.

Put practically, in a class of thirty fourth-graders, let's say 24 of them read at or near grade level, for the most part, but three of them read anywhere from 2-4 grades ahead and three read 2-4 grades behind. This means that if I were a teacher in this class, I'd have to prepare at least three lesson plans in reading alone, probably more -- one "big lesson" for the group of 24, and then a "lower-level lesson" for my folks who were waaaay below grade level and one "upper-level lesson" for my folks who are on the other end. That's hoping, of course, that the lower and higher kids are clustered more or less in the same area, but you could easily have one fourth-grader who's reading at the 6th grade level and another who's reading at the 10th, and so on.

I find this an undue burden on good teachers -- the ones who will really try to accommodate all learners. I also suspect that it encourages a one-size-fits-all approach among teachers who don't want to or can't deal with extremes.
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