public education

Some thoughts on public education1:

  • What a great idea!
  • I don’t even mind the property tax set up;
  • Just, money should be pooled and then distributed equally to schools around the county;
  • Two teachers per classroom;
  • No more than 20 students per class;
  • No more than four classes a day;
  • Classes should be about 90 minutes long;
  • A 4×4 block schedule is good in general for Juniors and Seniors, but Freshmen and Sophomores need to interact with foundational courses for an entire school year – maybe year-long, 120 minute, Tuesday/Thursday classes would work for math, language arts, and hard science courses;
  • There’s some argument about AP/IB classes on a 4×4 block schedule, but a similar schedule works for those same students in college;
  • REAL communication with students, their families, and teachers about what the curriculum should be and achieve – let communities respond to, adjust, and decide how to implement standards;
  • No tiered certificate/diploma systems – a high school diploma that meets the requirements of rigorous college entrance should be the right of all students in public schools;
  • Less corporate influence on curriculum at ALL levels;
  • Less focus on standardized testing;
  • More real collaborative teacher/department planning time rather than administrator-led planning;
  • Pick a lesson plan template and stick to it;
  • Less focus on faddish technology;
  • But have working, up-to-date computer stations in each classroom;
  • Better textbooks;
  • Abundant paper, binders, notebooks, writing utensils in all classes;
  • Abundant subject-specific supplementary materials in all classes;
  • Tables and chairs and cubbies rather than desks;
  • Schools shouldn’t be prisons (heck, prisons shouldn’t be prisons…) – more time outside, more windows, more green space, longer lunches (30 minutes is an insult);
  • Time for teachers to actually go to the bathroom (two teachers per classroom would help here);
  • Better teacher salaries – nothing outlandish, oh, heavens no – but not a convoluted pay-for-performance thing, either;
  • Rigorous, regular content-specific teacher training – if districts have to partner with local colleges and universities to keep K12 teachers up-to-date in their subject areas, so be it.

  1. I’ve been teaching since 2004; I’ve worked mainly in one high school in one department, but I’ve also taught college courses and youth visual arts and media workshops. In my experience, there is nothing like purpose-designed curricula and purpose-built classrooms to help learners develop critical thinking and real-world skills. Outside of magnet programs, today’s public schools are not designed to achieve these ends. ↩︎