The Big Ideas in education: What’s on your list?

Scholastic sent out this list of the decade’s 10 big ideas in education. I thought it was a pretty good list.

(Since this is a list from a children’s publishing, education and media company,  the big ideas have a lot to do with reading. )

Take a look and see what you think is missing. An emerging idea that is not on the list is overlapping high school and college by offering more joint enrollment programs and creating new opportunities for kids to get college credits.

1. Alternate Paths to Teaching—from Teach for America to Troops to Teachers to urban Teaching Fellows programs, schools of education are no longer the only place that teachers begin their careers.

2. Transformative Technology— From whiteboards to online education, 1-to-1 computing to eReaders, for the first time in the history of American education, classrooms are increasingly plugged in – and so are the students.

3. Accountability— No matter where you stood in the debate on No Child Left Behind, it’s impossible to deny that this decade marked a new era with a shift toward reporting the results for every child in every school.

4. Data-Driven Instruction—Once we have data on every student, it’s easier to reach them quickly and to teach them better. Data is the new currency of 21st century schools.

5. Charter Schools—While the jury remains out on their effectiveness, there is no doubt that charter schools are incubators of innovation in education and harbingers of parent involvement in schools.

6. The Rise of Digital Content—By 2020, 95 percent of all knowledge will be a search term away—marking a game-changing move from static pages to dynamic, digitized content.

7. A Focus on Adolescent Literacy— With 65 percent of American eighth graders reading below grade level, teaching reading is no longer a job just for elementary school teachers.  Our middle and high schools are taking dramatic steps to tackle the job of teaching reading to older, struggling students—ensuring that every child learns to read in an era of global competitiveness.

8. Books Are the New Black — In the decade that gave us “Harry Potter,” “Twilight” and “The DaVinci Code,” the hottest accessory is definitely the book. And it’s impossible to deny the power that a single book can have on children’s feelings about reading. ”

9. It Takes A Village—More than ever, education is reaching beyond the walls of our schools to build strong communities that support learning both in and out-of-school. From the universal pre-K movement and burgeoning after-school programs, to summer reading initiatives and in-school community centers, we’re learning that it takes a combination of home, school and community to prepare kids for their futures.

10. The American Recovery & Reinvestment Act —Although it is the hallmark of only the last year of the decade, with its more than $100 billion dollar investment in America’s schools, ARRA represents an historic moment in American Education. While we cannot predict its impact, we can say with certainty that ARRA will leave an indelible mark on this decade of ideas in education.

80 comments Add your comment

Ben

December 17th, 2009
6:58 am

What’s missing? Improvement in education is what’s missing. With every passing year results get worse and the US, and Georgia, slip further behind even some third world countries in educational quality despite spending more per child than 95% of the rest of the world. Good intentions don’t equal results. If you want to fix education start by taking it away from politicians and giving the responsibility back to counties, cities and parents where it belongs. The US department of education has never done one thing that has resulted in improved quality of education.

Old School

December 17th, 2009
7:02 am

Parenting classes and make them mandatory for teen parents. We’ve got a generation (or 2) of kids with kids and no clue as to how to effectively and responsibly parent them.

Bring back Industrial Arts. It was a great way to introduce students to the more specialized heavy shop classes like Construction, Metals, Automotives, Engineering Drawing, Graphic Arts, etc. We no longer have any way to teach the craftsmanship or even home maintainence that made IA such a wonderful course.

And while we at it, let’s bring the existing CTAE programs into the 21st century by funding renovations and updating equipment in the remaining existing labs. Creating charter vocational schools that offer career related academics (business communications with grammar instead of literature in a lab that can handle students from grades 10 through 12 at the same time for instance) along with intensive industry-guided shop classes. We might just keep kids in school and boost the local economies by producing truly job-ready workers.

Involve students in the school improvement process. Has anyone ASKED students how they might fix the problems? Has anyone LISTENED to their answers? We need to listen to students from AP classes and special needs; from student leaders to random discipline problem students; from musicians to athletes; from all walks of life. They know what they are doing that is either part of the problem or part of a possible solution. ASK them and LISTEN to them and try something different. They’ll buy into a solution if they have been a part of developing it.

AP Lit/Comp

December 17th, 2009
7:54 am

To Old School – I couldn’t agree with you more. Amen.

V for Vendetta

December 17th, 2009
8:05 am

Old School,

I completely agree with you in regards to the technical level classes. Nothing on the list mentioned the current (and completely insane) trend of preparing ALL students for college–regardless of ability. In my opinion, that’s one of the most damaging trends in education.

Has been CTAE teacher

December 17th, 2009
8:15 am

On target Old School and V! It is a shame how CTAE teachers are treated in our schools. CTAE courses are one of the few career choices that can’t be outsourced overseas, will prepare the student for a technical career that will benefit them regardless of the later choices they may make regarding post high school education and will bring in a paycheck when others can’t find a job.

high school teacher

December 17th, 2009
8:18 am

Number 3 is incorrect; it should read “Teacher Accountability.” Everyone else is currently excluded.

oldtimer

December 17th, 2009
8:27 am

I, too agree with Old School and V.

Toto: exposing the per*vert behind the curtain

December 17th, 2009
8:34 am

Enter your comments here

Dick

December 17th, 2009
8:47 am

Until you take Washington out of the school systems, you will always find failure. They fail to realize what works in New Yord will not work in Macon, Ga. We have too many want-a-be powers in the educational system today. They use teh system as a stepping stool. We must
(1) remove politics from class room; (2) turn class rooms back to the teaches, NOT administration. (3) Hold parents/guardians AND students accountable for their actions. Our local superintendent os allowing students to rretake test. If student and/or parent didn’t like grade on first test, they can retake and teacher must use the higher grade. Also if an assignment is given to students even though teacher gives them a deadline that doesn’t mean anything. If English Lit has a term paper due 12/18/09, students have until last day of school to turn in paper and teacher CANNOT deduct points. Really teaching responsibility, isn’t it. Teachers cannot give below a 60 on test or report cards. Super’s thinking here is a 60 if a F and a 15 is a F, why embarrass the student and hurt his self esteem by showing the 15, just show the 60. Sell foot ball tickets for studnets and parents/guardians at the weekly PTO Meetings. Parents can’t attened PTO but they sure can attend a parent teacher conference and deball the teacher. Teachers can only mold what they are given. If they have a smart butt student, there hands are tied. If they have a non supportative board and administration, the tachers are dead meat. I think supers need to be elected. Think about it super, only has to satisfy and keep 7 board members happy.

Teacher Supporter

December 17th, 2009
8:53 am

High School Teacher,

There are two groups of folks in education… teachers, those who support teachers. Those of us who support teachers are well aware that if we do not do our jobs, teachers can not do theirs. That makes all of us accountable.

James

December 17th, 2009
8:54 am

The kids that we prepare for college are often ill prepared. Something like 30% of students who maintained a “B” average in high school end up taking remedial classes in college.

Happy Teacher

December 17th, 2009
8:56 am

The posts here show why the charter movement is the most important aspect moving forward.

The ideas that old school have are great and could be addressed through rigorous investment in charters, and the complaints of HST and “d” (not putting the name back out there) are currently being addressed by the successful, well-run charters that are out there.

DeKalb Conservative

December 17th, 2009
9:15 am

Old School and I have agree on this in the past. Industrial Arts need to come back. I’ve got an MBA and the thought of changing a door knob, or replacing a “dog-chewed” step in the garage from the previous home owner scares the heck out of me. That’s just embarrassing and I’ll suffer and end up spending thousands over my lifetime for things I should be more capable of.

My father who is very skilled in a variety of trades also seems to agree and feels all students, male and female should be required to pass a basic home maintenance class as part of receiving a high school diploma.

dgroy

December 17th, 2009
9:16 am

Maureen, nothing in your article addresses the lack of parental guidance from a segment of our society that needs it most. You start education at home and the best schools in the world cannot make up for the lack of it. When one part of a class has the basics and the other part doesn’t, it slows down the learning process all over. We need to stop blaming learning problems on our schools and put the blame where it belongs…..parents who don’t care!!!!!

clueless

December 17th, 2009
9:19 am

Does Georgia fund remedial reading instruction at the middle and high school levels?

DeKalb Conservative

December 17th, 2009
9:30 am

“Accountability” and its focus on the late Senator Kennedy’s / G.W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind seems to receive as much criticism or praise depending upon who you ask and what the premise of the political environment is.

That said, “accountability” needs to shift focus from a focus on schools, teachers and testing and be brought directly into the intangible via the hearts and minds of the students. By students I mean “students” not parents, not parents and students, but just plain students”

Just like any company trying to implement new values and visions into their employees, it is essential to instill the value of personal accountability into students and from and early age.

Aside from environmental beliefs, students need to understand the difference between owning a car and owning a bike in their 20’s is as simple as having core adolescent literacy skills.
Schools have drunk driving victims from M.A.D.D. speak all the time, maybe its time to get an illiterate person that regrets his decisions of his youth to speak to kids

Big hot air

December 17th, 2009
9:38 am

No mention of discipline? My mistake; I thought we were ready for an honest discussion of educational issues.

Toto: exposing the usurpers behind the curtain

December 17th, 2009
9:43 am

Here are my BIG IDEAS for school improvement:

1.Defund and delete the U.S. dept. of Education. Public Education is not an enumerated power of the Federal government according to the Constitution. Return the billions in tax money to the people.

2. Repeal the state compulsory schooling law. Sell off the existing infrastructure to pay off debt. With the huge tax drain eliminated, families could afford to privately fund their child’s education and could choose schools that serve their children rather than the State. Quality teachers would be in demand and would be paid accordingly. Pedophiles,perverts, and slackers could go dig ditches. Those who want freedom from religion can form their own schools and hire teachers accordingly. Those who want a religious school could do the same. Home schooling would continue as usual.

3. Shut down Unconstitutional government testing. It is a $billions a year industry with no oversight or regulation. Private schools would be responsible for their own testing. It is the burden of the colleges or employer to determine the educational fitness of the individual.

4. Shut down the State department of Education. Again, the billions saved would be returned to the tax payer. Any employee with skills that actually contribute to the education of the individual could find employment in the private education sector. All others could increase our own cheap labor pool so we wouldn’t have to go to China. It would once again become economically feasible to produce our own goods locally. Debt would decrease and our nation would have REAL VALUE, not Federal Reserve fiat dollars.

5. Restore our Constitutional form of government. We are not a democracy. Our Founding Fathers rejected this form of government with good reason.; it leads to tyranny. According to the Declaration of Independence, the people derive their rights and powers FROM THE CREATOR, not the Federal Reserve or the government. The Constitution is a contract between the governed to reflect and preserve the Creator given inalienable rights of the individual: life, liberty, and the PURSUIT of happiness. Notice it didn’t say “guarantee”. As the people have become lazy and selfish and have refused to govern themselves, our glorious Constitution has been ignored TO OUR DETRIMENT! Why do you think we are now suffering from tyranny and economic depression? The people must always keep their elected officials in check. If you vote for a spendthrift who thinks his power is derived from the government and ignores the enumerated powers of the Constitution, then you DESERVE to lose your home to the creditor. Citizens, where in the Constitution does it say that the Federal Reserve, a private bank, has the power to print Fiat money? Only the Treasury has the power to COIN money. Now, Every Federal Reserve Note spent by our government is DEBT to be repaid WITH INTEREST to the Federal Reserve, A PRIVATE BANK! You have sold your great great grandchildren into debt SLAVERY for all of those “free” government lunches! Wake up and use your Constitutional Grand Jury power to throw out Unconstitutional law! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PB5adDmAKYo&feature=related

jim d

December 17th, 2009
9:54 am

No need for a top ten list when 1 will fix most ailments with our educational system.

FREE MARKET!!

Happy Teacher

December 17th, 2009
10:12 am

Though improved family situations are a great goal, and would make things wonderful, let’s please not forget that when you focus only on blaming parents, you actually punish the children who were not born to their parents by their choice, it just happened. We have to do as much as we can for them, or else the situation will just keep perpetuating itself.

So yes, bad parenting causes a lot of problems in our schools, but sticking our head in the sand clearly won’t work. It just makes things worse…

Old School

December 17th, 2009
10:18 am

“4. Data-Driven Instruction—Once we have data on every student, it’s easier to reach them quickly and to teach them better. Data is the new currency of 21st century schools.”

How valid can data be when it is derived from test scores skewed by students who will never be able to learn, students who don’t give a fig and “Christmas Tree” their answer sheets, students burdened with baggage from lousy parents/homes/neighborhoods/choices of friends, students “taught” by ineffective teachers, students who attend school when the lunch offered is a favorite, students who can’t read the questions anyway. . . you get the picture.

Data can be valuable if it is valid data but to call it the “new currency of 21st century schools” is a bit much. I’m thinking much of the data is more like the new Confederate Money and is mostly an excuse to make sweeping changes that benefit the new kid with the great lesson plan that worked for him.

Find a way to collect consistently valid data and I’ll start doing the Max Thompson or whoever cure du jour. Until then, I’ll focus on job prepping individual students to the best of my ability and under the guidance of my Advisory Committee members who know what the workforce needs because they ARE the workforce. And I’ll keep in close contact with our area community & technical colleges to lay a solid foundation of knowlege and skills for my students who will be heading in that direction.

gamom

December 17th, 2009
10:46 am

Vouchers for Everyone .. enuff said!

jim d

December 17th, 2009
10:47 am

while we’re at it lets inplant chips so we can follow the data when a child relocates, wouldn’t want one falling thru the cracks

James

December 17th, 2009
11:01 am

Government teaching parents how to properly be parents? That sounds good in theory but given the governments track record I’m not so sure. Plus that just doesn’t sound like something the government should be doing. How about Civics, History, basic finances & economics, and home repair?

Just a teacher

December 17th, 2009
11:17 am

First and foremost, Fine and Performing Arts Education. The arts are fundamental to every civilized society, but funding for them in public education remains slim. This is primarily due to the data driven educational policies which Maureen mentioned. Since it is difficult to evaluate arts education using standardized testing, the arts tend to get swept under the table in a discussion of “serious” educational issues. Under NCLB, the fine and performing arts were classified as core curriculum classes because their value in a civilized society was recognized by the federal government, but their is little funding for these programs in many public school systems. I wish people would remember that getting back to the basics means learning to draw, sculpt, sing, play musical instruments and act. These skills preclude mathematics and written language in every developing society, but they are usually either ignored or considered frivilous by many people who have not taken the time or interest to develop an appreciation for them. All children need exposure to the arts in order to understand themselves, develop an empathetic understanding of those around them, and to become a fully functional member of the human race.

Ole Guy

December 17th, 2009
12:29 pm

Jim, your suggestion of the free market concept in adressing educational malaise is sound in theory, however, one factor renders the theory next to moot…irrational choices. If a child (and many adults) is offered a choice of well-balanced meals at lunchtime, or a box of candy, fee market forces, and the foibles of human nature, would, in all likelihood, result in empty candy boxes and good chow in the trash at the end of lunch period.

I realize many neither understand nor accept anything which smacks of military, however, I feel that the one factor, common to any military training evolution, which would translate nicely into the educational scheme is STANDARDIZATION. This, of course, would fly in the face of the failed initiative known as “No Child…”. However, that is precisely the point. This initiative, charitable in concept, probably holds more kids back than benefits. One would imagine high dropout rates are caused, primarily, by student boredom, an absence of classroom challenge. This void in challenge probably serves to render any teacher attempts in livened presentations moot at best.

Remember those days in chemistry and physics? For me, every day I felt that the train was getting further ahead, however, while I trailed in subject cognition, I could still, rhetorically speaking, “see the train”…at some point in time, catch-up will occur. The challenge, for the teacher, then, becomes one of modulating the speed of presentation so as to keep all students engaged. A class of so-called “slow learners” (and that is not meant to be a derogatory term, but rather an acknowledgement of reality) would receive the “No Child…” approach to class presentation of material. At each 6-week grading period, student performance would be evaluated, and equally-performing students would be re-grouped.

The only drawback, of course, would be the “perceived stigma”, perpetuated by irrational parents who would balk at the very notion that their kid just don’t get it. In the absence of this stigma, that is, if parents just supported the school system’s decisions, the kids would probably feel ok about the whole thing. The end result: KEEPING KIDS ENGAGED, AND MOTIVATED (and out of trouble), no matter the level of subject cognition.

learning style myths

December 17th, 2009
12:39 pm

It’s about time educators abandon the myths of “learning styles” and focus on teaching well.

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/journals/index.cfm?journal=pspi&content=pspi/9_3

Cobb County Parent

December 17th, 2009
2:16 pm

I know I’ll get some flack for saying this, but… how about bringing back ABILITY grouping? This differentiation methodology currently being “attempted” does not work. It puts too much emphasis on the teacher to come up with multiple lesson plans in the hope of meeting the needs of the many disparate cohorts within the classroom. Every child deserves to have their needs met… and that includes the gifted. Too often, I see them used as parapros. Move them out and meet their needs elsewhere. Tackle the remaining learning cohorts within clustered classrooms and then watch as each group progresses. This is how it was done when I was in school and it worked. What I see now is teachers fighting any type of cluster grouping due to a lack of confidence that the other teacher will be able to develop a child that THEY are tagged with regarding CRCT scores. Here’s an idea… why not make the 6 or 7 third grade teachers responsible for the ENTIRE third grade class and allow cluster groupings dependent upon teacher competency with subject or ability to reach certain populations of students.

James

December 17th, 2009
2:25 pm

The reason for data-driven education policies is very simple and obvious : You can not manage for improvement if you don’t measure to see what is getting better. If you can’t measure it then you can’t control it or manage it. You can’t determine if things are getting better or worse if you have no standardized way to measure. If the problem is that “the test can be gamed” then make a better test.

Funding for fine arts may be “slim” but I’d wager a bet that it’s increased steadily over the years with the exception of the recent downturn that all departments have faced. Fine arts tend to get swept under the table in a discussion of “serious” educational issues for an obvious reason; they are *not* on par with importance of math, language, civics / government, history, and economics. They are indeed important and every student should have at least some understanding of art, art history, and some level of appreciation of art.

James

December 17th, 2009
2:29 pm

That’s fascinating learning style. Thanks!

DeKalb Conservative

December 17th, 2009
2:43 pm

@ Just a teacher

Let’s focus on fine arts and performing arts education when our kids can beat Slovakia and Austria in math.

Personally I don’t care about any emotional growth, or character growth it produces unless the U.S. can be competent with other G20 countries in math.

Why is it that the U.S. has all the advantages for children, yet excepts the fact we are not a top power in education until the college / university level and does invoke any feeling of shame?

high school teacher

December 17th, 2009
2:50 pm

learning style,

The article you referenced doesn’t disprove the learning styles theory; rather, it points out the flaws of the research methods that they used. There is a difference.

For what it’s worth, I agree with you to an extent. I am a visual learner; if I don’t see it, I don’t get it. When I was in school, most teachers were visual teachers. However, there were a few who never wrote anything down or showed all the steps to the math problem. I adapted. Many kids today do not know how to adapt, and I don’t know how to teach that.

Just a teacher

December 17th, 2009
3:21 pm

@ Dekalb conservative

I would be willing to wager that students with a background in the arts do better than students without that exposure in almost every area of achievement. I can’t explain why, but the students I teach in my fine arts classes fail far fewer classes and get better standardized test scores than those who students who don’t participate in the arts. Perhaps it’s because they learn early on that in order to perform, you must be prepared. And finally, I take exception to the idea that everyone must be some sort of Math genius. I hold an advanced degree and have taught at the university level and never took a math class above plane geometry (which I passed with a C-).

math teacher

December 17th, 2009
3:26 pm

I’m a mat teacher, and I have no idea what type of teacher I am. I use diagrams, pictures, etc. when they are appropriate for teaching the topic I am dealing with at that moment. I don’t use diagrams, pictures, etc., if they are irrelevant to the concept at hand. I think learning styles are just irrelevant and useless ideas. Too many of my colleagues, and too many of curriculum specialists, etc., are infected with this disease to worship “learning styles” and “multiple intelligence.” We should just get rid of them.

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live.love.eat.

December 17th, 2009
6:31 pm

@Just a Teacher and Dekalb Conservative

I do think that Fine Arts and Music is important granted so is math. I think we need a healthy dose of both. There are studies that show how music enhances the brain. One of the characteristics of a civilization is the Arts. Therefore, we just need to learn to balance (as always, easier said then done, but lets just try to be optimistic). I’m sorry that this comment doesn’t necessairly pertain to the article above.

catlady

December 17th, 2009
7:07 pm

1) Strict behavioral standards and funding of alternative education for troublemakers all the way down to the primary grades, 2) academic accountability for students and teachers at the same level of expectation, 3) accountability for parents, 4) discontinuing the cure du jour approach (taking away the incentives for Central Office staff to profit from their adoption) 5) immediate discontinuation of RTI, 6) evaluation by well conceived, independent research of all federal and local programs (ie, no more REading First debacles), 7) teaching to mastery instead of “exposing” students, and refusing to continue to promote children who have not mastered skills, 8) abandoning all academic coaches, including grade-level, reading, math, and graduation, 9) discontinuing inferior education programs at all levels, especially buy-a-diploma masters and doctoral programs, 10) reinstating and supporting vocational programs, 11) discontinuing excessive testing and the state-made tests, 12) requiring the state to fulfill its lawfully executed contracts with personnel, 13) requiring all candidates for leadership programs to have at least 15 years of direct classroom experience before being admitted to the programs, 14) immediate discontinuation of Class Keys, 15) requiring a balanced program for all students (in part, by discontinuing social promotions that require extensive remediation of students years behind in mastery), 16) fully funding an adequate opportunity for education for all students, including regular ed FAPE, 17) removing sped students with significant impairments from regular ed classes, 18) encouraging local BOEs to develop schools that provide choice and parent buy-in.

Well, these are the top 18 that occur to me here in my part of Georgia, off the top of my head.

Whistling in the wind.

Leigh

December 17th, 2009
10:14 pm

All these ideas, and our kids still cannot read, write, or add. Low expectations, mediocrity, and feel-good curriculum are all to blame.

ScienceTeacher671

December 17th, 2009
10:23 pm

CATLADY FOR STATE SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT!!!!

Ole Guy

December 17th, 2009
10:53 pm

Leigh, I completely agree with your assessment. What with all the public monies and the legions of “experts” working on the education platform, one must wonder just exactly what goes on behind the closed doors of educational leadership. HOWEVER, while you have done an excellent job of illuminating the problem, I am hard-pressed to see any ideas…got any?

B. Killebrew

December 17th, 2009
10:53 pm

Catlady, overall good post.

I strongly agree with #’s 1, 3, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13

I agree with #’s 4, 6, 15, 16, and 17

I somewhat agree with #’s 2, 7, 8, and 18

I don’t know much about #’s 5 and 14

Shannon, M.Div.

December 17th, 2009
11:09 pm

Anyone notice that US being at the bottom of developed countries for education is read by some as a mandate for demolishing government education (a truly bad idea if ever there was one), but the US being at the bottom of developed countries for standard healthcare measures is no mandate for changing anything? Hmmm…

N. Ga Teacher

December 17th, 2009
11:59 pm

Wow! Catlady is terrific! To her list I would add changing the K-12 curriculum to include an hour of exercise (gym class) daily, mandatory parental volunteering at school for 2 days a year, a return of study hall (because many kids do have terrible home situations that simply bar academic accomplishments), and diverse curriculum choices for kids to obtain a diploma in which they can pursue their interests and not be round pegs crammed into square holes. I would much rather have a fulfilled, 18 year old senior who took 4 years of automotive repair than a 18 year old disgruntled freshman class disruptor attempting Math I for the fourth time and and English 2 the third.

jim d

December 18th, 2009
7:17 am

WTG Cat, WELL SAID!!

it could however have been abridged by simply saying “SCRAP the existing system and start over”

Old School

December 18th, 2009
7:34 am

jimdear, the trouble with scrapping the existing system and starting over is the same boneheads would be in charge and we’d be no better off than we are now. Until they LISTEN to real people (real students, parents, teachers, business & industry folk) and stop with the blanket fix-all approach, we’ll still be in a mess. It’s a real world out there and even the department of labor says 80% of the jobs still require some technical training while 20% require college. So until we understand that and start customizing education to meet the true needs of both the students and their futures, it will be “same song, second verse, could get better but it’s gonna get worse.”

Students KNOW exactly what they are doing to deep six test scores, to interrupt learning, and generally run their schools aground. Talk to them. Listen to them. Make them a part of the solution. Afterall, they are a big part of the problem. Same thing with teachers. Ditto for parents. Just don’t hand-pick the ones you talk to because problems exist at every level.

William Casey

December 18th, 2009
10:27 am

Catlady… I am astounded by your list. Adoption of your suggestions would result in SIGNIFICANT improvements within five years.

I spent 31 years as a teacher, administrator and athletic coach in both public and private schools (now retired to blogging). Your comment on administrators needing classroom experience really hit home. I became an administrator in Fulton county’s Chattahoochee high school after 15 years of academic teaching, more than the other four administrators combined. I was absolutely stunned by our leadership’s lack of understanding. I’ll leave it at that.

I would add only a few items:

1. ABOLISH THE “EVERY KID NEEDS A TEXTBOOK” IDEA- This is simply a “we have always done it this way” practice and foolish in this digital age. Buy a few books for students who actually need them and use the millions of dollars saved to solve problems such as the need for teacher “furloughs.” Boards of Education are either simply or living in 1910.

2. BEGIN EDUCATING PARENTS ABOUT THE REALITIES OF A COLLEGE EDUCATION WHILE THEIR CILDREN ARE YOUNG- Students must be both willing and able to attain this. Parents need to get real about this early on. Even WITH the HOPE scholarship, sending a student to a Georgia college costs about $8,000 per year. We began saving $100 per month when our son was born and have this covered. If you can’t do this, forget it. A college education requires academic ability. If your child can’t handle academics in the 7th grade, he/she won’t be able to do it as a college freshman. Save your money.

3. RESTORE VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND APPRENTICESHIP TRAINING- Ties in with #2. Well covered by another blogger. As my dad used to say: “get a job they actually pay you for!”

William Casey

December 18th, 2009
10:29 am

You got it right too, OLD SCHOOL.

Parent

December 18th, 2009
10:55 am

William Casey,
Placing students on the “college track” before high school is a mistake. This leads to a number of problems: skipping basic skills for advanced classes, not giving late bloomers a chance, putting kids (who are smart) on the college track who may not want to be there.

Old School

December 18th, 2009
11:04 am

Well, my list has just been changed for me. Got word that to “fix” all our problems, we are going to a 7 period day. Extended day instructors will “be allowed” to continue teaching on extended day but will have our extended day pay reduced.

My list may very well be:
1. Retire
2. Take that 1/2 day position in a neighboring school system because I cannot afford NOT to work.

B. Killebrew

December 18th, 2009
11:26 am

Parent,

You are so right (about tracking).