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Old 12-29-2009, 08:01 PM
Status: "Desperately searching for the grading fairy...." (set 9 days ago)
 
Location: Whoville....
21,935 posts, read 16,271,152 times
Reputation: 11507
Default How would you fix education in the US?

Ok, let's say you're in charge. You have the same funding to work with that schools have now. What would you do to fix education in the United States? Where would you spend the money and why?

Personally, I think one of the issues with education in the US is that we're trying to be everything to all people and trying to prepare everyone for college. I think both are, costly, mistakes.

Last edited by toobusytoday; 12-30-2009 at 07:13 AM.. Reason: typo fix

 
Old 12-29-2009, 10:18 PM
 
2,175 posts, read 2,165,959 times
Reputation: 815
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivorytickler View Post
Ok, let's say you're in charge. You have the same funding to work with that schools have now. What would you do to fix education in the United States? Where would you spend the money and why?

Personally, I think one of the issues with education in the US is that we're trying to be everything to all people and trying to prepare everyone for college. I think both are, costly, mistakes.
Unfortunate typo for your subject. Perhaps one of the mods will fix it for you.

I think you already know much of what I would do - and that you don't really care:

Multi-age classrooms, to eliminate any stigma of either going a bit slower or faster.

Attention to individual learning styles.

Include intentional affective education.

Cross-curricular material, especially in the 7th - 12th grades.

Teacher training that practices what it tells teachers to do, providing effective modeling - OR showing that the thing cannot in fact be done, so shut up about it already!

These would take an initial investment in changing the training process for new teachers and retraining many current teachers, but would not be long term major changes in the costs of education.
 
Old 12-29-2009, 10:44 PM
 
1,428 posts, read 1,895,299 times
Reputation: 1434
Quote:
Originally Posted by jps-teacher View Post
Unfortunate typo for your subject. Perhaps one of the mods will fix it for you.

I think you already know much of what I would do - and that you don't really care:

Multi-age classrooms, to eliminate any stigma of either going a bit slower or faster.

Attention to individual learning styles.

Include intentional affective education.

Cross-curricular material, especially in the 7th - 12th grades.

Teacher training that practices what it tells teachers to do, providing effective modeling - OR showing that the thing cannot in fact be done, so shut up about it already!

These would take an initial investment in changing the training process for new teachers and retraining many current teachers, but would not be long term major changes in the costs of education.
Many of your suggestions, plus...
1. Make it much, much easier to eliminate poor teachers.
2. Hire teachers with a B.A. (at least) in English, science, history, or math. No "education degrees."
3. Make it much easier to eliminate disruptive, voluntarily ineducable students.
4. Eliminate grade inflation and social promotion.
 
Old 12-30-2009, 05:13 AM
 
Location: In the AC
972 posts, read 1,248,632 times
Reputation: 812
Quote:
Originally Posted by jps-teacher View Post
Unfortunate typo for your subject. Perhaps one of the mods will fix it for you.

I think you already know much of what I would do - and that you don't really care:

Multi-age classrooms, to eliminate any stigma of either going a bit slower or faster.

Attention to individual learning styles.

Include intentional affective education.

Cross-curricular material, especially in the 7th - 12th grades.

Teacher training that practices what it tells teachers to do, providing effective modeling - OR showing that the thing cannot in fact be done, so shut up about it already!

These would take an initial investment in changing the training process for new teachers and retraining many current teachers, but would not be long term major changes in the costs of education.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Wallace View Post
Many of your suggestions, plus...
1. Make it much, much easier to eliminate poor teachers.
2. Hire teachers with a B.A. (at least) in English, science, history, or math. No "education degrees."
3. Make it much easier to eliminate disruptive, voluntarily ineducable students.
4. Eliminate grade inflation and social promotion.
I agree with both the prior posts and add:

In addition to having teachers with subject degrees, we need to add more training for lateral entry teachers prior to their entering the classroom. And, that training needs to be realistic and grounded in best practices.

The curriculum in many areas and grade levels needs to be overhauled as well so we can focus on teaching fundimental concepts in a way that allows our students to really understand the knowledge. If you can't remember it two years later, did you really learn it?
 
Old 12-30-2009, 05:43 AM
Status: "Desperately searching for the grading fairy...." (set 9 days ago)
 
Location: Whoville....
21,935 posts, read 16,271,152 times
Reputation: 11507
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Wallace View Post
Many of your suggestions, plus...
1. Make it much, much easier to eliminate poor teachers.
2. Hire teachers with a B.A. (at least) in English, science, history, or math. No "education degrees."
3. Make it much easier to eliminate disruptive, voluntarily ineducable students.
4. Eliminate grade inflation and social promotion.
How will you define poor teachers? I agree teachers should be "at will" employees with no tenure. Then schools can get rid of whomever they want whenever they want if they're not working out for any reason.
 
Old 12-30-2009, 07:02 AM
 
Location: Piedmont NC
4,597 posts, read 7,405,861 times
Reputation: 9030
Default So, why aren't we being consulted?

I've never understood why school reform doesn't seem to include going to those in the trenches. At least in my experience teaching, teachers could have NO opinion, which was ludicrous.

I would go back to neighborhood schools, and then take the money spent on busing to make the schools 'equal' -- literally pour it into the schools into programs, personnel, materials, whatever it took to get the children up-to-par. There isn't much gained, and a whole lot of harm done, actually, by riding a bus at ridiculous hours of the day for up to an hour and a half. I'd love to have access to a school budget to see what is spent on buses and their maintenance, the personnel to maintain them, the personnel to drive them, and the fuel bill. Then, I'd like to see the miles put on the vehicles -- those miles are on the kids as well.

For whatever one thinks is being accomplished by busing, I contend the money could be better spent.

And I most certainly agree with making it easier, and in some cases more fair in terms of assessment, to get rid of the 'dead wood'. In almost 30 years of teaching, I worked with some bad ones, who did far more damage than good.
 
Old 12-30-2009, 07:14 AM
 
109 posts, read 180,028 times
Reputation: 70
Politicians should be required to serve a certain number of days as volunteers in the public schools before being allowed to make educational policy decisions.

And I don't mean just sitting with children listening to them read, either. I mean full day shadowing of teachers and administrators, and actually BEING PRESENT in the day to day operations of a school.

There is a lot of talk about teacher accountability, but what about accountability on the part of students and teachers?

The current measure of rating schools needs to be changed. I'm not sure HOW it SHOULD be, just that what they are using now does not even make sense in theory, much less in reality.

Children should need to show mastery to move on. It does no good for a child who does not understand the material at their current level to move on to the next level where they are expected to expand on their knowledge. Construction workers would not build on a weak foundation without strengthening it first, yet educators do it all the time.
 
Old 12-30-2009, 07:18 AM
 
Location: Chicago, IL
9,000 posts, read 8,716,756 times
Reputation: 3452
To try to save money, I would make it where the school buses can't idle.
I would focus on energy efficiency. I know my high school had some pretty single-paned windows and the teachers would have the heat on while at the same time we had a window open because it would get so hot in the room. A programmable thermostat would have helped a lot.

I would extend the school year.
I would put less focus on standardized tests.

I would try to look at the better educational systems found in other countries and emulate them.

More accountability for students AND parents. Parents will be fined if their child misses too many days of school. Of course exceptions will be made for chronically ill children.

More recess for little kids
Healthier food in the lunchroom
Make physical education a requirement for every grade level
 
Old 12-30-2009, 07:32 AM
 
10,283 posts, read 16,358,493 times
Reputation: 4812
In my district all of the stakeholders, i.e., community members, teachers, school board, administration, parents and students, are invited into discussions on overall school changes. As a parent I've been on several district wide reform groups and am now on one specifically for our HS. To actually implement the changes you have to be on the school board.

In PA, all secondary teachers already have to be certified in their subject. While that certainly should give them the depth that they need to teach a subject, it still does not not give them that unidentifiable quality that makes for a good teacher. As far as getting rid of bad teachers, unless a child is molested with a witness present or the teacher exhibits outlandish behavior it seems that it's easier to just choose new teachers very, very carefully.

We don't have long distance busing where I live - none of the schools are more then 15 minutes from any student.
Our kids have gym K- 12.
Lunches are healthy - no fried food, no chips, no soda.

The most interesting thing I've found about bulletin boards is that we all tend to think that the problems that we may have in our particular district are nationwide. What I've found from moving quite a bit is that every district, every school, every state does things differently and that only the very basic premises would be the same overall - smaller classes, qualified teachers, administrators that care..
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Old 12-30-2009, 07:39 AM
 
Location: Piedmont NC
4,597 posts, read 7,405,861 times
Reputation: 9030
Default Then why isn't this stuff happening?

School has become too bureaucratic. I think of my father's expression, "too many cooks spoil the broth." We, educators and schools in general, have gotten out of the business of teaching children how to think. I agree with everything each of you has had to say here on the subject.

The last ten years I taught, I saw more and more testing, and couldn't figure out what we were looking for, to be honest. I found the sheer number of tests absolutely ridiculous. There is nothing wrong with designing and/or mandating a curriculum, then testing for mastery in that coursework, skills, concept, whatever, and setting a standard for such mastery -- an 80 or a C, is what 80% of the people will do 80% of the time. It's average, and there's nothing wrong with average. Aim for better, but an 80 is acceptable.

Our system, for example, determined the curriculum for English 1, 2, 3, and 4, and mandated the curricula, as well as many materials. The end-of-course tests supposedly tested for the skills, and the system set the level of mastery (somewhere around 77%). I had no problem with much of this, but on top of these tests, the students were taking still more tests that the State, or individual system, called 'mastery tests' or 'competency tests' or whatever they chose to call them. BULL$#*@.

In addition to the expense of busing children, I'd like to examine the testing budget. What it must cost, system by system, and state by state, in ALL things: the personnel to administer them, including proctors brought in, the expense in terms of instructional days, and everything else AFTER the expense poured-into the research -- what do we teach? what do we test? when, and how often? at what % mastery? -- and then, into the design and printing/publishing of the test.

By contrast, how I would have loved having some valid materials in the classroom to address the different learning styles of the students, or another pair of eyes, ears, hands to help with the instruction in other ways.

Schools where I taught were admin-top-heavy, and test crazy.
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