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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accessteacher's profile pic

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

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

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

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

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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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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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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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enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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

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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.

linda-allen's profile pic

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

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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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lynn30k | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

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

Posted on

 

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.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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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.

 

readerofbooks's profile pic

readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

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.

ask996's profile pic

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

Posted on

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.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

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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umair47 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

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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