Children need to believe in themselves and the power of education BEFORE they leave elementary school. PTA/PTO groups should make that their focus. Outside groups need to make it their focus, too. There should be groups specifically targeting the children of incarcerated parents that instill in children the belief that they do not have to follow their parents’ footsteps. Every child needs to know that someone believes in them. East TN has GOT to let go of this false sense of pride in ignorance. Every time there is an article in the paper about a local school, someone chimes in that “If that school were good enuf fer me, it’s good enuf fer my kids.” At the First Day Festival, the number of parents who were too illiterate to write down their contact information was staggering. We can try very hard to make all parents believe that an education is the key to their child’s future, but ultimately, it has to be something that the CHILD believes.
Schools need to embrace homeschooling families and in exchange for participation in school sports and clubs, include ALL home schoolers in test score averages. Home schoolers are reaching their highest potential. They are self motivated. They are not the bad guys. Schools should encourage willing students and families to learn in the classroom AND at home. Reward students who do independent learning. Don’t make it impossible by assigning homework that is redundant and unnecessary. Time spent in a classroom doing Plato lessons is time wasted with a skilled and valuable teacher. Plato should be done after hours or from home.
At the first sign a child is struggling, parent-teacher meetings should be held to create a plan at school AND home to help the child. If the parents are lacking the skills to help their child with academics, parents need to attend classes to achieve literacy and reinforce in children the value of an education. We take parents to court when their children are truant. Why can’t we make parents attend classes if their children are failing?
IDEA needs to be completely retooled. Schools can’t provide all the services that IDEA promises and the government has not paid their promised share. Mainstreaming requires heavy usage of aides. Dumbing down classes is bad for everyone. There are teachers successfully tiering the students in the same class. Expect more from students who have the ability to do more and reward them appropriately.
NCLB needs better PR. Every time there is an article about it in the paper, some clueless commenter remarks that children shouldn’t be promoted a grade level if they haven’t learned and performed. NCLB isn’t about passing/failing. It is about offering every single child the tools they need to succeed in the school system. NCLB has many, many problems, but before it existed, children with disabilities, ESL families, homeless families and many other square pegs in round holes situations were falling through the cracks.
Children should not be attending school in trailers and crumbling classrooms when our city is overflowing with empty buildings.
School IS the only place that all children are required to be and that makes it the best place to offer other support services. That does not mean the school system is paying or doing more than education. It means that the school BUILDING is being utilized to support the families of that community in every way possible.
By high school level, ALL teachers should be incorporating technology into the classroom. If a teacher is incapable of doing something as simple as using e-mail, they do not belong in a high school.
Students who earn a GED within a specific time frame after they drop out need to be included in a school’s graduation statistics in some way. Maybe it should count slightly less, but credit still needs to be given. Every child who drops out needs to be given an exit interview to try and determine why they dropped out and what could have kept them in school.