There are certain issues in education that should no longer take a major study or a Ph.D. to understand. And yet some Americans seemed duped into believing there’s need for proof.
For example, Chalkbeat just informed us that students who take tests in hot rooms don’t get good test scores. Does this shock anyone?
Here’s a list of issues in education that are reported on repeatedly—issues where the solution makes common sense, or has been proven through many studies.
Why haven’t public schools evolved to reflect good and decent practices? Well, we know why. But still…. Think how public education would improve if only…
- Class sizes were smaller. Teachers have trouble reaching more than 20 students in elementary school, and 20 students, 5 times a day, in high school (100 students). This is especially difficult when classes consist of a wide-range of students with different learning and behavioral needs.
- Recess breaks were given several times a day. Children need breaks from schoolwork and from adults. Children need the freedom to play outside on a safe playground. Recess is not P.E. Recess is not telling children what to do.
- Retention was outlawed. Holding a child back in 3rd grade, or any grade, is emotionally painful. The research has repeatedly shown that retention is detrimental.
- Play was revered. Young children need play. If you deny children the freedom to cognitively work things out through play, they probably won’t do well in school later.
- Reading was taught to be enjoyable. If children don’t first develop curiosity about the written word, why would they care about it?
- Diversity was treasured. Americans like to think they are special. So why do they want sameness when it comes to their children and their schools?
- Teachers were always qualified. Thinking anyone can teach without teaching qualifications—learning about child development, psychology, how to teach reading and other subjects, teaching methods and pedagogy—is dangerously naïve. What other profession would permit this?
- Data collection was restricted and private. Collecting personal information online about children and their learning difficulties and behavioral problems (which are often transient) is a recipe for disaster. Parents have every right to be concerned.
- Technology use was supplemental. I have not seen one study that indicates a computer can replace a teacher.
- Testing was for teacher use. Tests should help teachers better teach students, not close schools and destroy teaching careers.
- Business supported local schools and teachers. Business leaders do not understand how to teach children, but they can support teachers and students in a variety of ways that don’t include taking over public schools.
- Vouchers didn’t exist. Few poor parents can use a voucher for a wealthy prep school. Nor will the better private schools accept anyone.
- Poverty was better addressed in communities. Blaming teachers, and public schools, who struggle to work with poor children is draconian. Teachers in poor schools need additional support and the best resources possible!
- Immigrants were treated kindly. Schools are supposed to be compassionate places that care for children. No child should ever be turned away!
- Corporal punishment ended. Schools and teachers should demonstrate effective and considerate discipline.
- Everyone got behind public schools. Breaking the country’s tax-supported schools into two competing entities, where one has oversight and the other does not, is unfair, costly, and detrimental to students.
- The arts were part of the curriculum. All students should have opportunities to express themselves and learn art, music, drama, and even dance!
- School facilities were safe and maintained. Students should have clean, safe, and well-run school facilities that are conducive to learning.
- School libraries were well-endowed and run by qualified librarians. Schools with great libraries and qualified librarians have students who learn better.
- Special education was not stigmatizing. If students come to school with disabilities, or if they are gifted and talented, they need extra support. What that consists of should be determined by parents, teachers, and other professionals. A continuum of services is needed.
- Religious differences were accepted. Students can pray quietly to themselves before lunch or in groups in after school organizations. What they cannot do is proselytize or coerce other students during school hours. Freedom of religion means schools must welcome and create a safe haven for those with any religious beliefs.
- Support staff were plentiful. Schools need counselors, school nurses, school psychologists, librarians, paraprofessionals, and many others, to support teachers and students.
If you think of other issues let me know and I will add them.