"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Thomas Jefferson (appears in the Jefferson Memorial)

More on ed reform

carlson CHRIS


In April I listed ten suggested reforms that would assist learning by students from the student perspective. This week I’m offering thoughts on suggested reform actions from the standpoint of teachers and school administrators.

1) Allow teachers to maintain discipline. Teachers are in the classroom to teach, not baby-sit. If a student is being disruptive and a teacher tosses the person from the class the supervisor or principal has to back the teacher up. Zero tolerance for disruptive behavior and no second chances. Teachers should instill in students that public education is a privilege not an entitlement.
2) Significantly decrease the load on teachers that comes from having to fill out too many “process forms.”
3) Provide teachers with more “prep time.”
4) Require teachers to take more pre-teaching college classes in history and the humanities and fewer classes in educational theory or psychology.
5) Since Idaho does not and probably never will pay its teachers a decent salary, mandate that every teacher, including coaches on the teaching faculty take a fully paid sabbatical every fifth year to recharge the batteries. Teaching, done correctly, is very demanding and draining. Burnout can occur frequently. This would at least give Idaho a unique offering with which to attract new teachers. Which leads to the next item;
6) Strengthen teacher recruiting and retention programs.
7) Require teachers to participate with each of their “homeroom” students in a semi-annual review of the student’s Planned Path to the Mastery of Common Core Knowledge.
8) Evaluation of a teacher’s skill and success in teaching should be based on extensive in-class observation and not on test results.
9) Evaluation of teachers should require above the 7th Grade a student evaluation component and allow for but not require parental input.
10) Campuses should be weapon-free environments except for police hired to provide security in their “spare time” or a hired and trained armed security force. Neither teachers nor students should be allowed to carry on a school campus.

Here are my suggestions for public school administrators:

1) Periodic rotation back to the classroom so as to keep abreast of the in-class challenges facing teachers today.
2) Taking the lead in advocating for teachers before school boards, PTA’s and the public, especially in support of enforcing discipline, adopting a performance based system instead of a time-oriented credit system, and supporting flexible learning time.
3) Require all administrators and principals to undergo media training so as to be better at conveying messages to the public through the media, especially if a school is in a crisis mode.
4) Support teacher mentoring programs.
5) Provide more but shorter “CLE” courses for teachers.
6) Integrate the non-teaching workforce into the system in each district and provide opportunities to expand their participation as teacher aides or additional resources for special projects. Some bus drivers, for example, in some districts, are well-educated themselves and represent an untapped resource.
7) Administrators should be required to attend a certain number of school board meetings each year so as to better understand the challenges a district is facing and to minimize the us vs. them atmosphere.
8) Administrators should have as part of their evaluation a “community participation” requirement – they should join and actively participate in at least one local organization, such as a Chamber, Kiwanis Club, Elk’s Club, American Legion, etc.
9) All administrators should support a no extra-curricular trip more than eight hours away from the school. It’s getting ridiculous seeing, for example, high school basketball teams entail the expense as well as discriminate against the students from less financially secure families by scheduling themselves into holiday tournaments in states like California or Texas.
10) Administrators should be required to conduct extensive background checks on any new hires recognizing that it is difficult due to privacy rules to really develop a profile of a new hire without professional assistance.

There you have it: ten rules for students, ten for teachers and ten for administrators. If all were adopted and integrated into each and every school district I guarantee more learning would take place.

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