I would get rid of grades and stop pretending that high school (and all school) is an extended admissions process. Teachers would have more time to write evaluative comments instead of grades. Colleges would have to figure out their own way of finding out who they should let in.
I would change the way schools are built and they'd no longer be big blocks of classrooms. You need to bring back all the shop classes, all the vocational classes, etc., and integrate them into the school so that they aren't stigmatized and everyone can take them if they are interested.
I would start high school later, no way should adolescents be in school at 7:30, they are worthless at that hour and everyone knows it yet we keep doing it because it is more convenient that way.
One senator has recommended the abolition of the U. S. Department of Education as a means of saving money, among other things. Ridding the states of the bureaucratic authority of this department seems a good move as few in this bureaucracy understand much about the real problems in education. And, when the real problems are not admitted to the discussion, no solution can ever be attained. The No Child Left Behind and the Disabilities Act as it applies to schools have both created financial and educational nightmares. One school in Iowa went bankrupt because of a single student's parents' demand that he be allowed to come to public school. Since this one very,very disabled student cost the school system "$60,000 per year, the entire student body lost their school went the system went bankrupt.
Many educators see college as the next logical step after high school. Most of our school curriculum and policy is developed and implemented with this in mind. We need to do more to prepare students who are adamant about not going to college to be prepared for the real world. What of the kid who has his own logging business while he's in high school. He sits in school day in and day out knowing he could be making $200 a day logging. That's what he wants to do. How do we offer him real tools, while he's in school, that he will use when he leaves school?
I would like to see a change in the ways schools deal with discipline and classroom behavior. Teachers and administrators need to be more proactive in helping to create a school environment where students feel welcome, comfortable, and safe. Building and maintaining strong relationships between kids and educators is essential for the best learning and teaching to take place. School behavior is still largely viewed in terms of infractions and consequences, and not enough emphasis is placed on teaching and modeling healthy and respectful behavior.
The main reform that I would implement would be to improve the ways in which teachers are evaluated. This would take a lot of work, but it would be a very important step in improving our system.
As things are today, teacher evaluation is typically pretty haphazard. A principal comes in and watches your class once or twice a year and writes some generic notes. This evaluation has very little to do with anything, especially once you have tenure.
I would like to find a way to really evaluate how well teachers are teaching. Good teachers should then get extra pay and not so good teachers should get help so that they could really know how to improve.
The school system today does not do enough to identify and reward good teachers or to help bad teachers improve.
Teachers get an F for Educational Outcomes, but it is Professors who deserve the F for "Unprofessional Education"
I would have us join together in a fraternity that would help us to get a very basic Professional Education beginning with the identification of the BEST Practices of Professional Teaching. Without this elementary step, we simply do not qualify as a Profession. The World Wide Web now is filled with millions of pages of unsupported practices, and quirky Educational Reforms. We cannot minimize the practical difficulty in actually doing the right thing at the right time however it is evident that every certified teacher should have been educated and trained in the best scrutinized, and most results-based practices. Currently teachers are the only ones held "accountable," the vetting of Best Instructional Practices would shift accountability to professors, Schools of Education, State Departments,Self-Serving Foundations and other power brokers ...where it belongs. The way forward is simple, cheap and straight.