Education: So what do we do?

Some said that while my Monday editorial critiques, it offers no substance — on reforming education.  I’ll add some thoughts.

How about if we pay nursery school, kindergarten, 1st, 2d, 3d grade teachers (the early grades) what we pay college professors (and college professors get paid what nursery school teachers make)?  Young children are virtual sponges.  They learn and absorb the most in these early years.  This is the time!  This is where we need our best teachers.  By the time children reach college, learning patterns are fixed.  Will this happen?  Should it happen?  Probably not — but you get my drift.

Longer and more school days beginning with the grades referenced above.  The U.S. averages 180 school days per year.  That’s right down there with Portugal, Haiti and Bolivia.   The average day is 6.5 hours.  We can do better.  We must do better. 

Unions represent teachers – sure – but they must be spokesmen for students.   The job is education.  Become champions of education instead of the trumpets of discord.   Blindly protect the worst teachers?  Everyone loses.   Strike for fewer work days and shorter hours?  Give me a break.  Work for the betterment of students?  Everyone wins.   And policy makers need to understand what it takes to be a good teacher.

Today anyone can become  a teacher.  Yet some teachers don’t have the ability to teach.   Raise the bar on teacher certification. 

Teachers deserve incentive pay and h.d.p. (hazardous duty pay) for working in tough schools.  Great results deserve meritorious compensation.   

Charter schools – yes.  Magnet schools – yes.  Vouchers – yes.   Tutoring programs – yes.  Require parental involvement (and educate parents while we’re at it) – yes.    Keep our eye on the ball — the objective is to educate.

Hold students to higher levels of achievement.  Let’s not “dumb down” expectations.   Grades are important.  You fail?  You fail.  Try again. . . . and again.  And succeed.  I’ve read that uniforms (or strict dress codes) improve student performance.  Worth a try??   

Teach computer literacy and typing early on.   Best course I ever had in high school — typing. 

Be creative.  Be inspirational.  Be learning-oriented.  Target achievement.  Develop a new mind-set.  Educate.  We can get there. 

Education – An Editorial

We spend more and more money on public school education and each year, the results are dismal.   Our educational system is flawed if not broken.  Why?    

I am concerned that teachers unions impede the education process by focusing on teachers — not education.  There is blind protection of the lowest common denominator (the worst teachers), opposition to charter schools, objection to longer hours and more school days and rejection of merit pay for great teachers who achieve great results.   And unfunded (and unfair to taxpayer) pensions drain state and local budgets.   And tenure?  Where did that come from?   No other business has such foolishness. 

A big negative in educational outcome is parental void.   We want parents to be involved in the education of their children.  But when parents are out of the mix, teachers must step up to a higher calling. 

The notion of federal control over education is not working.  Requiring states to send massive amounts of taxpayer money to Washington to be massaged and nitpicked by (and paid in salaries to) bureaucrats is draining and counterproductive.  The U.S. Department of Education (begun in 1979) has 5,000 employees and a budget of $94 billion(!).  I have a feeling that states can use that money more productively.  

School districts?   According to a 2002 census, there were nearly 14,000 in the U.S. (each a bureaucratic fiefdom unto itself).   And Illinois (a state that is nearly bankrupt) has nearly a thousand of them.  Can we consolidate?   

 We need to educate.   Those with good jobs and higher pay are normally better educated.  Those without solid education* are the un and under-employed.  Want to build the economy?  Education.  Want to reduce crime?  Education.  Want to reduce unemployment?  Education.  It’s the Rx for lots of things. . . .    

     *”Education” does not mean a child must be college-bound.   It can mean the trades, military,  associate degrees, agriculture and a host of other job and skill set training.  (See posts of 11/23 and 12/5)