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Education Reform?If you had the ear of the Education Secretary, what ideas would you...

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mcalnan | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted November 19, 2009 at 5:08 PM via web

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Education Reform?

If you had the ear of the Education Secretary, what ideas would you share with him about reforming the educational models in this country?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 19, 2009 at 5:12 PM (Answer #2)

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In my opinion, the most vital thing is to devise some effective yet equitable way of doing teacher evaluation.  The idea that we can just keep giving teachers tenure and pay raises based on seniority just can't continue.  But it's essential that some evaluation system be put in place where administrators can't just destroy the careers of teachers they don't like.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted November 19, 2009 at 6:23 PM (Answer #3)

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I'm not sure what the practice in your state, but teachers in Missouri are given performance based evaluations in which the administrator comes into the classroom and observes as the teacher teaches. Obviously, the longer a teacher is in the classroom, the less frequently the have to be observed, but if tenured teachers aren't qualified it's not an educational flaw. It's an administrative weakness.

That being said, one of the problems of public education is the lack of value many people place on it. The government asks more and more of our public schools, yet the give schools less. Many teachers who pursue advanced degrees spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to earn Masters and PHDs with absolutely no hope of ever really being able to recoup the expense. Compare the pay scale to other careers that take that many years of education and it's shocking.

Parents of many children also place little value on education as they don't make their children attend regularly, they don't make their children do homework and earn passing grades, they don't attend parent teacher conferences, and etc.

So, make it easier for teachers who feel called to the profession who feel passionate about their subject area to feel as if they can both teach and support their families while doing so. Make parents accountable for making their children attend regularly and perform at satisfactory levels. Hey maybe even make parents pay tuition on the classes their students have to take again because the child failed as a result of not completing and turning in the course work.

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 19, 2009 at 8:50 PM (Answer #4)

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I would make teaching more selective and get rid of bad ones. I would also increase the salary of teachers 2 fold to make it attractive for more people. Some charter schools are doing this. Let's see if it works. I have a feeling that it will work.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 20, 2009 at 6:41 AM (Answer #5)

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I'm not sure what the practice in your state, but teachers in Missouri are given performance based evaluations in which the administrator comes into the classroom and observes as the teacher teaches. Obviously, the longer a teacher is in the classroom, the less frequently the have to be observed, but if tenured teachers aren't qualified it's not an educational flaw. It's an administrative weakness.

That being said, one of the problems of public education is the lack of value many people place on it. The government asks more and more of our public schools, yet the give schools less. Many teachers who pursue advanced degrees spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to earn Masters and PHDs with absolutely no hope of ever really being able to recoup the expense. Compare the pay scale to other careers that take that many years of education and it's shocking.

Parents of many children also place little value on education as they don't make their children attend regularly, they don't make their children do homework and earn passing grades, they don't attend parent teacher conferences, and etc.

So, make it easier for teachers who feel called to the profession who feel passionate about their subject area to feel as if they can both teach and support their families while doing so. Make parents accountable for making their children attend regularly and perform at satisfactory levels. Hey maybe even make parents pay tuition on the classes their students have to take again because the child failed as a result of not completing and turning in the course work.

I never perceived the administrator evaluation as being worth anything.  They don't spend enough time in your room to know whether you are actually getting through to your students.  So I do see that as a flaw in the system.  There needs to be some way of measuring outcomes more objectively.

 

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 20, 2009 at 11:36 AM (Answer #6)

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Education reform!  What's that?  You mean the never-ending cycle of flavor of the month ed-speak pixie dust that gives voice to the political capital of school boards?

Here's the best one I've heard in a long time:

Early college.  http://www.earlycolleges.org/

It turns these ridiculous 4-year megalopolises into 2-year colleges.  Students start college at 16 or 17.

It's like all-day kindergarten, except at the back end of public education.  You know how kindergarten is the new first grade?  Well, how about the junior year of high school is the new freshman year of college?

You know why so many highly educated college graduates don't go into high school teaching?  Because it's high school!  This way, they go into teaching college: the rigor is a way to attract better qualified teachers.

Early college turns highs schools--products of the industrial age set to a farming calendar--into colleges.  Let students have the freedom of specialization, mobility, independent study.  Get rid of these absurd attendance rules.   It's a form of indentured servitude.

By the way, I do believe that teacher observations are nonsense.  They are the TPS Reports (from Office Space) of education.  They justify an entirely unneeded level of administration.  If taxpayers only knew that their $13,000 per child went to a paper trail...they would shut these places down like the state mental hospitals in the 1960s.

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lynn30k | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted November 21, 2009 at 6:28 AM (Answer #7)

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All good points above. What I would most like to share with the Secretary would be my wish that the people who make policy spend time in the schools before they make sweeping judgements and changes. It seems like we are being told what is good, what is bad, what works, what doesn't, and what to do by people who have not set foot in a K-12 setting since they were in high school themselves! They come in and try to apply business models to education and this simply doesn't allow for the variations in human behavior and ability that we deal with on a daily basis. All kids scoring in the "proficient" range by 2012? Really? I teach special education at the high school level, but it is not just the kids I work with who will be hard-pressed to meet this standard. The people making policy seem to be working on the theory that "If you do X, Y will result." Not in the real world, my friend...

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linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted November 23, 2009 at 12:33 PM (Answer #8)

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Good comments. One thing I would do is to do away with the 12-year system. Why do we keep kids in school until they're 18? Some may be ready to go to college when they're 16. Others may never be ready. Still others might be ready to enter the work force at 16 or 17. So why keep them in a cinderblock building for another one to two years just to have them sleep through Hamlet or be disruptive in class? We spend enough money on teachers and books and other resources already. Let's rethink the necessity of the 4-year high school.

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 23, 2009 at 1:00 PM (Answer #9)

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In my opinion, education in America will never be truly reformed until more responsibility is placed back on homes and students.  Each year, teachers in my school district are "punished" for student failures, absences, and discipline problems.  We continue to turn out students who did not earn diplomas and who go into the work force or college with the same lackadaisical attitude toward effort on their parts.  This is truly the norm in my district, and it's actually surprising and refreshing to teach a student who has personal responsibility and whose parents place responsibility upon that student.

This is not a problem that the government can fix; so my advice to the Secretary of Education would be to prevent frivolous and detrimental practices such as allowing students to buy seat time (because they skipped classes)--I'm not kidding--or allowing students who are out on bail for serious offenses to attend school as if nothing happened, or creating grading floors so that it is virtually impossible for a student to fail.

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shannadowd | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 25, 2009 at 5:47 PM (Answer #10)

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Standardized testing and the methods used to measure student achievement and teacher performance definitely need to be addressed.  The state in which I live, North Carolina, is so obsessed with reading and math scores that, as a teacher, all I can really do is teach the test.  I believe more authentic performance assessments needs to be implemented.  I just do not believe it is fair to base student or teacher's success on three-days worth of test administrations. There are at least 177 other days in the school year that need to play a bigger part in measuring how and what students learn and teachers instruct. 

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languagedabbler | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 28, 2009 at 3:58 PM (Answer #11)

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I mostly agree with #10 as I learned in my MS program at UT that tests are not the way to evaluate teachers or students. I think that if we teach students the content of a subject, do authentic or portfolio assessments and work on critical thinking skills, the students will be more innovative. Tests do not make a teacher a good teacher either. I think the tests will take care of themselves if the teacher can concentrate on creative teaching methods and the teacher will learn more at the same time. I think that teachers need to teach respect to students to get respect in return. Model behavior is important in the educational arena.

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ekanning | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 30, 2009 at 9:03 AM (Answer #12)

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I mostly agree with #10 as I learned in my MS program at UT that tests are not the way to evaluate teachers or students. I think that if we teach students the content of a subject, do authentic or portfolio assessments and work on critical thinking skills, the students will be more innovative. Tests do not make a teacher a good teacher either. I think the tests will take care of themselves if the teacher can concentrate on creative teaching methods and the teacher will learn more at the same time. I think that teachers need to teach respect to students to get respect in return. Model behavior is important in the educational arena.

I agree that testing is not a perfect evaluation tool, but it does have it's place.

My undergraduate program utilized a portfolio program to evaluate it's graduates. I enjoyed creating my portfolio very much, and I had to explain and defend my portfolio in front of a panel before recieving my diploma. I used a similiar portfolio process with my own students, although without the panel judgement. It was very rewarding for everyone, and the parents had a real sense of what their children were learning.

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ekanning | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 30, 2009 at 9:07 AM (Answer #14)

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I would make teaching more selective and get rid of bad ones. I would also increase the salary of teachers 2 fold to make it attractive for more people. Some charter schools are doing this. Let's see if it works. I have a feeling that it will work.

How do you increase salaries? The taxpayers are already stretched so thin, and so many states have budget deficits. Unless you teach at a private school, you should keep in mind that your friends and neighbors are paying your salary. Do you know anyone who can afford higher taxes right now? Many people are struggling just to find a job.

Also, higher salaries sometimes attract teachers who do not really have the desire to be great teachers. I taught at a private school in a state where I could have made twice as much at the public school, where teachers were paid very well. I knew public school teachers who really didn't enjoy teaching, but they wanted a job that had good pay, great benefits, and summers off. They talked about how they decided to go with education in college because it wasn't too hard and they knew the pay would be great. Were they bad teachers? Probably not. But they weren't great teachers, that takes a passion they simply did not have.

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ekanning | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 30, 2009 at 9:08 AM (Answer #13)

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Education reform!  What's that?  You mean the never-ending cycle of flavor of the month ed-speak pixie dust that gives voice to the political capital of school boards?

Here's the best one I've heard in a long time:

Early college.  http://www.earlycolleges.org/

It turns these ridiculous 4-year megalopolises into 2-year colleges.  Students start college at 16 or 17.

It's like all-day kindergarten, except at the back end of public education.  You know how kindergarten is the new first grade?  Well, how about the junior year of high school is the new freshman year of college?

You know why so many highly educated college graduates don't go into high school teaching?  Because it's high school!  This way, they go into teaching college: the rigor is a way to attract better qualified teachers.

Early college turns highs schools--products of the industrial age set to a farming calendar--into colleges.  Let students have the freedom of specialization, mobility, independent study.  Get rid of these absurd attendance rules.   It's a form of indentured servitude.

By the way, I do believe that teacher observations are nonsense.  They are the TPS Reports (from Office Space) of education.  They justify an entirely unneeded level of administration.  If taxpayers only knew that their $13,000 per child went to a paper trail...they would shut these places down like the state mental hospitals in the 1960s.

The model you are suggesting is very similiar to the to called "classical education" model, which is still used in many private schools and prep schools. My private high school prepared me a little too well for college, as my first two years were so easy I had too much free time to get into trouble.

There is an essay by a scholar named Dorothy Sayer that discusses the classical model of education used up until the 20th century.

http://www.gbt.org/text/sayers.html

I think that this type of liberal arts education is still very useful today.

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enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted December 2, 2009 at 12:27 PM (Answer #15)

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I would tell the Secretary of Education to dismantle his whole czardom, resign and go teach, if he was really interested in doing anything useful pertaining to education. The Federal government has no authority to regulate education; that they do is the main compounder of the problems educational institutions face.  Particularly with the Many Children Left Behind Act, yet another layer of useless bureaucracy is paved upon those who would seek to instruct and inspire; instead, they are required to get kids to pass tests, so....the government can regulate how much of your money the school gets?!?  This may give the impression that government is "helping,"  but this is antithetical to developing each individual child's curiosity, creativity, inspiration, and ultimately destroys that child's passion for learning.

And we wonder why by the time they're in high school they're bored and listless.

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hoffmaker | High School Teacher | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted December 3, 2009 at 9:28 AM (Answer #16)

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I think that administrators need to be held to their performance evaluations.  I've been in districts where this is done well and done poorly.  I've been given bad and good critiques. The bad ones were tied in with my personal life, which was wrong for them to do.  I just could never prove it.  I think that a universal measurement should be created that all administrators use based on subject and grade level.  An evaluation done for a kindergarten teacher should not be the same one used for a high school biology teacher. When that happens, then I think everyone will be happier.

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tey | High School Teacher | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted December 4, 2009 at 6:31 AM (Answer #17)

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In my opinion, education in America will never be truly reformed until more responsibility is placed back on homes and students.  Each year, teachers in my school district are "punished" for student failures, absences, and discipline problems.  We continue to turn out students who did not earn diplomas and who go into the work force or college with the same lackadaisical attitude toward effort on their parts.  This is truly the norm in my district, and it's actually surprising and refreshing to teach a student who has personal responsibility and whose parents place responsibility upon that student.

This is not a problem that the government can fix; so my advice to the Secretary of Education would be to prevent frivolous and detrimental practices such as allowing students to buy seat time (because they skipped classes)--I'm not kidding--or allowing students who are out on bail for serious offenses to attend school as if nothing happened, or creating grading floors so that it is virtually impossible for a student to fail.

This is a great post! Truth be told, the President addressed this issue during one of his hometown speaches in our area. Too often the educational system seeks out 'who is to blame' for the failings. In addition, students, their parents and sometimes the community look to blame as well. In this fact lay the teachers...blamed and powerless and frustrated. Administrators who have spent less than five years in a classroom setting who play the good guy with the students with behavior, attendance and respect conflicts, while the teacher's raise may be contingent on the fact that the students are no longer held accountable. Honestly, just walk into a McDonald's or other fast food establishment, where a lot of these kids end up. How articulate are they? How courteous are they? How do they respond to a customers request or request to make note of things to management? When we refer to education reform we open up a can of worms as few want to be held responsible in our society for the outcome of their choices. Personally, I have a way with the struggling population of students. However, that way is to be upfront and honest with them about these choices. Some confront me and tell me not to discuss it....again, let us not seek truth, let us quabble over reform?

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danw2016 | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 4, 2009 at 8:03 AM (Answer #18)

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I think that since alot of schools are losing money that The taxes should be rased about 5% and givin to the school. But Aggree that "Standardized testing and the methods used to measure student achievement and teacher performance definitely need to be addressed".

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ms-p-room555 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 5, 2009 at 8:11 AM (Answer #19)

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Divide the students into college bound/ vocational training.

 

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 7, 2009 at 10:11 AM (Answer #20)

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I would make all schools accountable of giving proof that they are basing their teaching strategies and educational goals on skills and data from their own classrooms and their own students rather than on the standardized tests indicators. This way we would enforce skill-based instruction and move away from basal book-based teaching. Which I detest.

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messa25 | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 10, 2009 at 1:37 AM (Answer #21)

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In my opinion, education in America will never be truly reformed until more responsibility is placed back on homes and students.  Each year, teachers in my school district are "punished" for student failures, absences, and discipline problems.  We continue to turn out students who did not earn diplomas and who go into the work force or college with the same lackadaisical attitude toward effort on their parts.  This is truly the norm in my district, and it's actually surprising and refreshing to teach a student who has personal responsibility and whose parents place responsibility upon that student.

This is not a problem that the government can fix; so my advice to the Secretary of Education would be to prevent frivolous and detrimental practices such as allowing students to buy seat time (because they skipped classes)--I'm not kidding--or allowing students who are out on bail for serious offenses to attend school as if nothing happened, or creating grading floors so that it is virtually impossible for a student to fail.

I agree that there needs to be more involvement at home and less teacher liability for certain things. Teachers need to be held accountable for what they teach, but only so much of that can actually fall back on the teacher when it is not being reinforced at home. I teach Pre-k in a public school system and a lot of the parents treat it like a daycare. I have to write lesson plans and do assessments like any other teacher. When I send home ideas to help your child and you don't even check their backpack, then what else can I do other than what is being done in the classroom? Not to mention that I'm responsible for TWENTY four/five year olds. When each one has some sort of special need, it's hard to get a marked amount of progress out of every single one of them without some kind of home intervention as well.

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tey | High School Teacher | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted December 17, 2009 at 6:42 AM (Answer #22)

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Education Reform?

If you had the ear of the Education Secretary, what ideas would you share with him about reforming the educational models in this country?

If I had the ear of the Education Secretary I would start by admitting that the National Standards as a way to push individual States does not work. Every State has different needs and some are more advanced than others already! The leaders of each State's education system need to get together and figure out what is working in each State and let it continue, while tweeking what does not work over all.

All the comments about ridding of the k-12 system, in my opinion, comes from frustration over graduation rates. Some States, and individual schools have implemented the process of dual enrollment and AP classes as well as GED and Tech schools on campus. If we are going to do justice to the future of our nation we need these programs available in every State and in each district!

In close I will share that the leadership of schools has changed in some areas. Some Principals in my State (Florida) have done less than three years in a classroom. I am aware that there are natural leaders out there, however, just because one gets a Leadership degree DOES NOT make them a leader. Teachers as leaders is the answer. Teachers as leaders scars the administration as they are the ones who hold dearly to tenure and high salaries. Give those salaries to the ones who are on the front line.

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tadavis | High School Teacher | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted January 4, 2010 at 9:35 AM (Answer #23)

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Education Reform, what a discussion.  If only we could solve that problem.  I can only truly speak from the advantage of a special education teacher.  One of the greatest problems is that general  education teachers don’t want those students in their classrooms.  In their defense, that’s because they don’t understand the disabilities of the children and don’t know how to deal with those students that have those disabilities.  I teach at the high school level.  All I see is what comes our way from the middle schools.  There is no across the board communication so that we are all on the same page.  All special educators, whether they deal with it or not, need to know the transition for a student that will eventually leave the public school arena.  They need to prepare the parent from the time of identification and repeated at every meeting. Maybe by the time the parent and student get to us, we can, as a team, make a more appropriate placement that suits the student in a more promising outcome.

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lfein | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 4, 2010 at 1:38 PM (Answer #24)

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Education Reform?

If you had the ear of the Education Secretary, what ideas would you share with him about reforming the educational models in this country?

Education reform requires far greater interventions than better teachers or higher pay for achievement.  The entire educational structure from top to bottom is obsolete.  Curriculum, pedagogy, infrastructure, legislation, and teacher qualifications need to be completely revised.

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lfein | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 4, 2010 at 1:43 PM (Answer #25)

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Standardized testing and the methods used to measure student achievement and teacher performance definitely need to be addressed.  The state in which I live, North Carolina, is so obsessed with reading and math scores that, as a teacher, all I can really do is teach the test.  I believe more authentic performance assessments needs to be implemented.  I just do not believe it is fair to base student or teacher's success on three-days worth of test administrations. There are at least 177 other days in the school year that need to play a bigger part in measuring how and what students learn and teachers instruct. 

Standardized testing measures the ability of a student to memorize facts and figures.  This is only 1 of many cognitive skills students and people need in order to be successful.  What happened to teaching interpersonal, and intrapersonal skills, manners, respect, making friends?  Students used to learn the majority of these skills from their families and upbringing.  Schools used to only have to teach reading, writing and arithmetic. Not anymore.  Times have changed and our education system needs to adapt.

 

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lfein | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 4, 2010 at 1:50 PM (Answer #26)

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In my opinion, the most vital thing is to devise some effective yet equitable way of doing teacher evaluation.  The idea that we can just keep giving teachers tenure and pay raises based on seniority just can't continue.  But it's essential that some evaluation system be put in place where administrators can't just destroy the careers of teachers they don't like.

It is more important that the requirements to teach are changed.  In countries where education excels teacher qualifications include a minimum of a Masters degree as well as years of on the job training.  Consequently they are highly compensated and therefore it is a very competitive market.

 

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umair47 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 6, 2010 at 5:07 AM (Answer #27)

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Today I woke up very early for study but didn't keep concertration on my tasks... I am worried...

and also bored...

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 19, 2010 at 1:16 PM (Answer #28)

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I would argue that the role of the federal government could be most effective and revolutionary if we undertook an aggressive campaign of school remodeling and reconstruction in the United States.  Without getting into the debate over curriculum and testing, and without trampling on states' rights, the federal government could build 800 schools a year for ten years, and alleviate overcrowding, as well as the giant gap in the quality of facilities in this country.  $5 billion per year ought to do it.

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besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted May 31, 2010 at 7:14 AM (Answer #29)

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I agree with a previous post who discussed tenure. I have seen wonderful teachers let go because of budget cuts. At the same time, mediocre teachers stay because they have tenure. This certainly is not in the best interest of the students.

In addition, I have seen numerous schools lower their standards to make their districts look better. I do not think this should be happening either.

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted June 4, 2010 at 6:58 PM (Answer #30)

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In reference to what #8 said, I think high schools should offer different tracks that students could follow. Those who are interested in college would take courses for that purpose. Those courses would be AP level courses so that students would be prepared for college. Those students who are interested in going to work would take courses in work ethics, workers's compensation, etc. Basically, these courses would teach students how to be successful in the workplace. If students know what particular area they are interested in, they could attend a vocational school the last two years of high school in that particular area. When I taught in New York, they had this particular type of program, and it allowed students to graduate from high school with a leg up toward what area they wanted to go into. I have taught in the huge high schools, and rather than mass educating all students the same way, we need to offer a variety of tracks students could follow. College isn't for everyone, and it's time we recognized those students who wish to do something else. Within our huge high schools, we could establish several smaller schools that would allow students to be interested in what they are doing.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 26, 2010 at 2:23 PM (Answer #31)

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Echoing some of the ideas of other ideas, I would place pay reform at the top of the agenda. What is desperately needed is a system of recognising truly talented teachers and rewarding them and encouraging them to stay in the profession and conversely, encouraging poor teachers to explore alternative careers. So much damage can be done by poor teaching and so much good can be done by great teaching.

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