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What Works: Resources | Edutopia June/July 2005

Welcome to Issue Five online. This page is your one-stop shop, and includes dozens of additional responses to our Sage Advice question ("What five things would you do to save public education?"), as well as the most popular suggestions. We've also added all the Web links mentioned in the magazine. Now, it's even easier to get started. Drumroll, please...
    Edutopia June/July 2005 Issue



    When we asked our Sages (that's you) for ideas to improve the educational system, the following five suggestions popped up again and again.

    What five things would you do to save public education?

    1. Raise Teacher Salaries

    I Am Entrusted With Guiding The Minds And Futures Of Hundreds Of Students Each Year, And Society Wants To Make Me Accountable For Students' Performance Like A Manufacturer Is Responsible For The Quality Of Its Products. However, The System Doesn't Want To Compensate Me In Any Reasonable Way For The Sometimes 60-Hour Workweeks Or The Six Figures I Spent, And Am Still Spending, On My Own Education.

    Mike Williams, Professor, New Mexico Junior College, New Mexico

    The Babysitting Service Teachers Provide Is Worth $150/Hour: 30 Students Per Hour @ $5/Hour.

    Virginia Malone, Retired Teacher, Hondo, Texas

    Level The Playing Field By Paying All Teachers, Regardless Of The District Where They Are Employed, The Same Salary As The Highest-Paying District In The State. Only Then Will You Attract Well-Qualified Teachers To The Lower-Performing Schools And Districts.

    Yvonne Moulton, English Teacherthornton Junior High School, Fremont, California

    Pay Teachers Better. Society Does Not Balk At Paying Lawyers, Dentists, And Doctors What They Deserve, And By The Way, How Did Those Professionals Get To Be What They Are? Teachers Taught Them.

    Theresa Mcabee, Social Studies Teacherlewis County High School, Weston, West Virginia

    2. Reduce Class Size

    The Best, Most Thorough Education Cannot Be Done By 1 Teacher In A Class Of 150 (Or More) Students. If Those Were Betting Odds, You'd Look For Another Horse.

    Clay Wright, Principalgraham, Texas

    Reduce Class Size To Less Than 20 For Grades K-3 And Less Than 25 For Grades 4-12. Teachers Would Be Able To Spend More One-On-One Time With Students And Have More Time To Evaluate Student Work And Assess Progress. This Would Also Alleviate Overcrowding Issues And Classroom Management Challenges. I Think This Is The One Change That Could Remarkably Improve Our Public School System (And Test Scores, If That's The Current Measure).

    Aura Smithersedendale Middle School, San Lorenzo, California

    Smaller Class Size Allows Teachers To Know Their Students Better, And Hence Teach Them Better. In A Class Of 15, A Teacher Will Know Her Students' Individual Needs Much More Than In A Class Of 30. Children Fall Through The Cracks More Easily When Teachers And Administrators Don't Even Know Their Names.

    Sarah Mcmane, English Teachertappan Zee High School, Orangeburg, New York

    3. Decrease Standardized Testing

    Stop Teaching The Students How To Take Standardized Tests. There Are No 'standard' Problems In The Real World. Students Need To Know How To Understand And Solve Real-World Problems Using Basic And Advanced Skills In The Areas Of Math, Science, Language, And History.

    Billy E. Smithnorth Harris Montgomery Community College District, The Woodlands, Texas

    Stop The Nonsense Of High-Stakes Testing. Using Only Test Scores To Determine Overall School Effectiveness Is Ludicrous. The Emphasis Of High-Stakes Testing Is On Reading And Math, While Other Subjects Are Being Neglected.

    Dr. Irving Leung, Coordinatorproject Pipeline, Alameda, California

    Educate The Whole Child. Accountability And Testing Is Just One Facet Of A Child's Total Education. America Has Become So Crazed With Test Preparation, Teaching To The Test, Standards And Benchmarks, Grade-Level Equivalents, School Report Cards, And District Report Cards, That We Have Lost The Joy And Creativity That Engages Young Learners.

    Jackie Daniilidis, Principalestelle Elementary School, Louisiana

    4. Increase Parental Involvement

    How Do The Two Groups Of People That Care The Most About Kids-Parents And Teachers-End Up In Hostile And Unproductive Relationships? Schools That Value Parents Reap A Win For Everyone. With Students Expected To Achieve At Higher Levels And Schools Having To Do More With Less, Parents Are Greatly Needed As Allies And Supporters.

    Carol Edelen, Community Support Coordinatorprichard Committee For Academic Excellence, Lexington, Kentucky

    While Our Teachers Are Human And Far From Perfect, Most Of Them Are Very Dedicated. The Big Problem Is Parents. We Need A Law That Demands Parental Involvement In Education. The Law Would Require School Districts To Offer Workshops On Parenting A Student, Understanding The Curriculum, The Role Of The Parent, And The Role Of Discipline In A Student's Life. If Parents Had Some Understanding Of What Goes On In School They May Be More Motivated To Assist In The Education Of Their Children. Remember, Students Spend About 18 Hours A Day At Home And Just 4 To 6 Hours In Instruction At School.

    Ben Casados, Educational Consultanthuntington Beach, California

    Parents Must Understand That They Are The First And Most Important Teachers Of Their Own Children. They Need To Realize That They Are A Central Force In Their Children's Education.

    Monica M. Sajn, Language Arts Teacherscott Middle School, Hammond, Indiana

    5. Educate The Legislators About The Schools

    Put Education Back In The Hands Of Education Professionals. Get Rid Of Bureaucrats Who Have Themselves Created The Idea Of "Saving Public Education."

    John C. Davidek, Social Studies Teacherflint Southwestern Academy, Flint, Michigan

    Require School Board Members To Participate In Effectiveness Training So They Can Understand How School Systems Are Run And How The Education Process In Their Classrooms Actually Works.

    Jerry T. White, Superintendent Of Schoolsnorth Haven, Maine

    Require Legislators To Spend A Month Teaching Before Seeking Public Office.

    Beth Bauchman, 7th Grade Social Studies Teachertexas

    Since this round's Sage Advice question attracted the wisdom of such a crowd, we've also created a PDF file of additional responses we received (152 KB). (Responses may have been edited for length and clarity.)



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