My School System Wish List

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.

4 thoughts on “My School System Wish List

  1. Personally I am a bit torn on homeschooling. I know that the numbers show homeschoolers being ahead but I wonder which types that includes. I homeschooled my son for 1 year (sixth grade). We had moved from Oak Ridge Schools and he had done terribly grade wise. He was in the gifted program (and always tested very high on standardized tests so I figured he was ahead already, so if I accomplished hardly anything- no big deal. I was also really tired of the teachers bitching at me for him not doing his homework because he forgot his books all the time (ADHD). I couldn’t be next to his locker to remind him and they weren’t going to help him. So I tried but failed miserably. I was just too tired after working all day to do lessons. He read a lot and we talked about science alot but that was it. I got involved with a homeschooling group that shall not be named and I must say I am scared to death for these kids because their parents are unschooling, or basically not doing any instructing and hoping their kids will pick up things. Thats great if they like to read in a way, but say they hate math and science they are never going to naturally pick that up. PLUS you can homeschool your kid up to 8th grade with just a high school diploma and in TN that does not mean you are terribly educated. The other breed of homeschoolers I know are mormon republicans who are building an arsenal in Morgan Co and teach their kids to hate and fear black people and that the south will rise again. They are under a church umbrella school so they are not required to teach their kids anything based in reality and it makes me so sad these kids are being raised to be be ignorant. I feel like many homeschooled kids are slipping through the cracks and WISH the local public schools would involve them more. I also wish they passed laws to require church schools to take the tcaps.

    My son went to bearden for 7th grade and it was like that year of hardly any formal education never happened, he was on the same level as all the other kids.

    I agree with you on unnecessary homework.
    It drives me nuts that homeschoolers only have to check a box that they taught for at least 4 hours 180 days a year, and yet my son has to go for 7 hours and THEN have homework. I don’t feel like kids have time to learn AND be kids.

  2. I know the group you are talking about. I know several people who homeschool for the wrong reason and who teach some very out there science and history stuff. Unfortunately, I have to side with a family’s freedom to raise an illiterate and hateful child outside of the public school system. If we don’t, then we are opening a door to allow schools to mandate that all children be taught the same thing. I don’t like where that could go under certain leaderships. The majority of homeschooled children really are incredibly well educated. ALL children should be tested though. Other states require portfolios and all kinds of things that we don’t require.

  3. Ahhh the memories. Two years ago I basically wrote these two things on my blog: “unschooling worries me” and “all should be tested”. That was the only time I got 250 hits/day and 100 comments/day… sadly, they were not nice!
    Just came from Ms.Cornelius’s site that also has a new post on public schools, what can I say – the more i read you guys, the more I realize how lucky our family got with our school district. Elementary school was horrible, but everything after that has been smooth sailing. And our PTO doesn’t even seem to do anything except selling stuff (elementary/middle) or organizing homecoming/winter formal dances and prom (high). I am SO voting for the levy this fall. Thanks all for sharing.
    I am still not sure about NCLB though. The biggest complaint I hear is that it killed gifted education in many states/districts. Under NCLS, those schools made teaching to the test their top priority, and since gifted kids were going to pass the tests anyway… their programs were shut down. Not in our district, thank God, but I’ve heard it from a lot of people.

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