Agreed about the problems with funding education. I'd love to see some people look at radical outside the box thinking like students pay back one percent of their annual salary back to their high school after a five year grace period from college up until they retire.
There is no need for high stakes testing, because teachers would get more money back to their school if they put out doctors vs. cashiers. It's not a perfect plan, but its thinking outside the box.
Abandon the notion that education is a business that has the mission of turning out a product. Public education is meant to create meaningful participation in democracy. (See Neil Postman, The End of Education.) This cannot be accomplished with a business model. Is learning a "product," really? Or is the student the product? I think not. Implicit in abandoning this model, is, of course, to embrace so many of the wonderful points made above, smaller classrooms, more money, and less focus on standardized testing, which seems to be more of a business model than anything, a new kind of "bottom line" some have embraced to determine the success or failure of this business.
I teach in the state that spends the least amount per student in the United States. Yes, my state is 50th when it comes to spending for education. It would be wonderful if each student were equipped with a computer every day and for each class. I don't want money spent on teachers, per se, although that would be wonderful, but I want the students to have the technological devices that they need to be competitive. It would be nice to spend money on tech devices rather than textbooks which are bulky and heavy. If each kid had an iPad, maybe the schools could teach from eTexts and use online resources more. Right now, a school of almost 900 has to share time between 60 computers, all of which are old and slow. Yeah, can anyone say Ghetto!
I can't narrow it down to one, so I am going to pick two. The first is I think there should be an understanding that two things impact education, and the rest is just a waste of money. If you put children in a classroom with an excellent teacher and a small class size then the students will learn. Everything else is just throwing money at the problem.
The second thing I would change is for teachers to realize that students have changed since they were a student, and therefore they must teach differently that their teachers did. Students learn by doing, not by sitting and listening. I believe that the biggest push towards improving teachers in America should be to push towards a learning platform, and not a teaching platform. I'm not saying an instructor should never directly instruct their students, but a complete education must give students an opportunity to practice the 21st century skills of creativity, collaboration, and communication on a daily basis.
You don’t identify whether you are referring to public education or whether you are referring to private education, but generally these types of questions refer to public education. The ability to adequately address the changes that need to be made in public education in a discussion board is difficult to say the least.There are many factors that affect the quality of and the problems found in public education.
1)Why don’t we change the policy makers? Many of the people establishing policy that drives public education have never been in an elementary school, middle school, or high school classroom. They have no concept of real world challenges faced by these teachers.
2)How about getting parents more involved? Parental involvement is on a decline. However, the economy drives the ability of many parents to be involved. If a parent finds himself or herself working two or more jobs to support the family, how much time is left to be involved?
3)Increase academic rigor so that students who graduate are better prepared for a career or college.
4)Increase consequences for students who choose to fail because they do not complete the course work, and then they have to take the class again. Why not charge them a fee for repeating classes?
5)Validate those who care enough to step into the classroom every day. They have at least two full-time jobs. They teach by day, after they day is over, they have papers to grade, lessons to prepare, and parents contacts to make.
6)Provide teachers with enough earning potential that they can support their family while teaching and raising the children of others in the classroom. As teachers, my husband and I both have advanced degrees. He has a doctorate, and I have a masters. I am working a second job to supplement our income. In addition, our children cannot receive state or federal grants for college because of our income level, but between both my husband and myself, over $5,000 a month comes out of our paychecks for retirement and other mandated deductions.
The main thing I would like to see is better help for teachers once they have entered the classroom. It is extremely difficult for new teachers to get their bearings and to become comfortable in their jobs. They are not (at least in districts where I have worked, which have been poorer districts) given any real sort of mentoring. No one sits in on their classes at any regular intervals with the intention of giving specific advice and help. They are essentially on their own. This is not the best way to create good teachers who will stay in the profession.
I would like to see teaching become a more trained, higher paying, and ultimately more respected profession -- because that's the way to attract the most talented people to the job.
When I taught abroad for a while in Asia, I was able to do an informal assessment of the differences between the American and Korean/Japanese system (while there are a lot of differeces between K/J systems, they have much more in common with each other than they do with the US public system). Some immediately jumped out, like the fact that my students started class at 8am and didn't finish until 8pm, including a mandatory 2-hour study hall--and then a lot of them attended after-school academies to brush up anywhere they were behind. They also had school 6 days/week, including Saturday classes, and usually a Sunday night study hall. Those long hours are a double-edged sword, though, because they increase class time, but students often practically sleepwalk through class because they're so tuckered out from the day before.
Along with the longer schedule, which is a pretty obvious difference, I also noticed something subtler --most of the teachers had MA degrees, and most of them had graduated in the top 10% of their undergraduate class. These kids were getting teachers who were both skilled in pedagogy and had been outstanding students themselves in their specific subject. One of the science teachers was even doing laboratory research at a nearby technical university in his time off, and he discussed his research and findings as part of class time.
The best way to get better teachers is to pay teachers as much as we pay other highly skilled, highly educated people. If you're a math major, and you can choose to apply for a teaching job where you'd make $35,000/year or a job as a wall street analyst where you could start out making $125,000/year, you're likely to choose the second option. That means that a lot of the time, people use teaching as a back-up option.
That's not to say that all teachers would prefer a different career. In fact, most of the teachers I know absolutely love teaching! But it can be frustrating to hear about a lack of qualified teachers in underfunded schools. That kind of thing just isn't fair to kids--kids who want to learn deserve to learn from the best, no matter where they live.
I'd like to see material equality in society, with no poverty, and I think that would reflect nicely in the quality of education people receive. We could then stop talking about "the best" schools that the rich have access to and the others that the rest of us have access to. I'd also include more academic freedom, because I think in terms of the humanities and the social sciences, what is available to read and what you can say and write is limited to the mainstream. I think a lot of people are afraid to say what they think, because from the very start, they're told what is acceptable and what is not acceptable indirectly though punishments and rewards.
As a special education teacher, the biggest change I'd like to see is the arbitrary grouping of students into classes and grade levels solely based on age. So many children have uneven, delayed, or advanced development and don't fit neatly into the prescribed curriculum for their chronological age. I worked with five year olds with autism who were just learning how to say simple words and phrases. This is at an age where children in mainstream classes are already learning sound-symbol correspondence and the other precursors of reading. It isn't fair to expect children to make multi-year leaps in development just to keep up with an arbitrary standard, especially when they've shown extremely delayed development, nor is it fair to penalize schools and teachers for working with these students. Conversely, I can remember being given books to read in the back of my 3rd grade class while the rest of my peers had instruction from a teacher. This was so they could "catch up" to me. Yes, my elementary school's solution to the differing rates of development in its students was to ask students who were advanced to not learn for several months or years so that others could "catch up". This does not serve the needs of students, nor the needs of society - which is ultimately the goal of educating children. Children should be in a room with others who are ready to learn the same things, regardless of chronological age, and these groups should be flexible to allow for progress.