1. Kindergarten NOT The New First Grade
Kindergartners should be treated like the four and five-year-old students that they are and not pushed to be first graders. The activities and instruction for this age group are well established.
Real educators should take charge and ensure that there’s much free play and age appropriate activities.
2. School Systems NOT “Portfolio of Schools”
For years, corporate reformers have unfairly claimed that school systems fail. They want privatization through a portfolio of schools involving charters, private schools and choice. This will end public education.
We need efficient school systems for traditional public schools only, that serve all children.
Taxpayers don’t need to fund unproven portfolio schools they don’t own or control.
3. School Boards NOT Privatization Partners
School boards are critical to keeping public schools public. Elected officials must listen to the voices of those in the community that elect them. The school board is democracy at its finest.
However, school board members have signed on to unproven initiatives by the Gates, Broad, and Walton foundations and others. Newer groups like School Board Partners encourage school boards to carry out a privatization agenda. Outside groups include Stand for Children and The City Fund.
Ask those running for school board about their goals for schools before they are elected. Demand transparency.
4. Teachers NOT Teach for America
Teachers choose teaching as a career. Teach for America is a substandard turnaround teaching pool. Sending young college graduates into the classroom as real teachers makes no sense.
Here are the businesses and individuals that donate to this group. What if they donated to real teachers and smaller classrooms, or other school needs?
Renew the focus on teachers, their credentials, their preparation, and their support. Elevate their professional status to the importance teachers richly deserve.
5. Principals NOT New Leaders
Next to teachers, principals fulfill the critical job of running the school. Their jobs should be to support and evaluate good teaching fairly and compassionately. No one should become a principal unless they have classroom experience and adequate university preparation.
New Leaders was created to weaken the principalship. Individuals from outside education with no classroom experience are placed in school leadership positions. Like Teach for America, New Leaders weakens the structure of public education. They follow the privatization directives of philanthropists who seek school privatization.
Hire principals with long-term experience working with students. Ensure that they have the support and know-how to lead their schools in what matters.
6. Superintendents NOT CEO’s
Many state superintendents have little educational experience, or they have been through Teach for America. Often they are seen as CEOs overseeing a business. But schools are not businesses. Children are not products. Most of these superintendents have little to no experience with the children they are supposed to serve.
Many come from The Broad Academy where they learn how to collect data and transform schools to choice and charters. They are about school privatization.
Ensure that those who lead America’s schools have the right intentions and backgrounds to serve the needs of students.
7. School Facilities NOT Other Places
The idea of school disruption with technology involves students working in various places online, not necessarily in their school building.
Many school buildings need repairs or need to be rebuild. Children and teachers deserve safe environments in which to work. Splitting building funds between charters, private schools, and public schools means many school buildings will continue to be rundown.
Make 2019 the year where every public school building is assessed and fixed or rebuilt to safely serve students.
8. Personalized Learning NOT Screens
Providing all children more individualized attention requires teachers who understand teaching and lowered class sizes. Digital learning can be helpful, but students still learn best through teachers.
9. School Libraries NOT Maker Spaces
Schools with great libraries have students who succeed, yet many schools have no libraries, or libraries which cannot afford to update books.
In other schools, the maker movement has taken over school libraries in an effort to transform schools to technology without teachers. Making things has its place but not replacing school libraries.
Put renewed emphasis on the importance of public school libraries. Along with school libraries, students need well-prepared certified professional school librarians.
10. Whole Curriculum NOT Narrow Instruction
Every public school should provide students access to a well-rounded curriculum which includes the arts and professional art teachers, and a variety of interesting subjects.
Students who may not thrive in academics might excel in drawing, dance, playing an instrument, or singing. We also know that the arts help students do better in academic subjects and may keep students in school.
Make whole curriculum mandatory, so that every public school includes the arts in its curriculum. Ensure that children are taught subjects like geography and bring back home economics and other lost subjects.
11. Mental Health Services NOT Armed Teachers
School communities need to come up with workable school safety solutions. Most agree that arming teachers is not the answer, and scare tactics with frightening lockdown drills is having a detrimental effect on young children.
Schools need more counselors and school psychologists. Lowering class sizes for teachers would help too.
School districts need safety nets for students no matter their age. Mental health assistance must be adequate and available to all students, without stigma.
Communities must seek ways to keep guns out of the hands of those who mean to do harm.
12. Lower Class Sizes NOT Only Technology
It is outrageous that class size is never considered a worthy reform. Lowering class sizes in the early years would give children a great start when it comes to reading. It is also a way for teachers to personalize their classrooms in a way that matters.
It could be also be safety measure to lower class sizes.
Insist in 2019 that public schools enforce rules that cover decent class size numbers. Ensure that every student has one person in the school who truly knows them, who they can reach out to, and who is willing to address whatever difficulties they may be facing and get them the help they need.
13. Parents NOT Stakeholders
Parents and teachers need to work together on behalf of the student. Stakeholder is a business word referring to many outside groups who wish to assert their authority on schools.
The focus with public schools should be on children, parents, and the community.
14. Teacher Testing NOT Standardized Testing
Testing is an important tool for teachers. Too much standardized testing wastes a child’s time.
Put assessment back in the hands of the professional teacher!
15. Testing NOT Online Assessment
When students do take tests they should be short, not repetitive and ongoing, and reflect on what students have learned. Many reformers are criticizing the standardized testing they originally pushed on schools and the backs of teachers and students. That’s because they want ongoing online testing and all the digital data that comes with this nonstop assessment.
Watch out for this online testing push in 2019.
16. Any Education Leader NOT Betsy DeVos
I could list many educational leaders off the top of my head that would be able to do the education secretary’s job better than Betsy DeVos.
Keep your fingers crossed that she is replaced in 2019.
17. Special Education School Services NOT Segregated Charters
Charter schools don’t do special education but chances are they will eventually do segregated special education. It will be like the return to institutionalization.
Insist that public schools follow the law when it comes to special education services in public schools.
18. Separation of Church and State NOT Any Religion
Many churches see dollar signs for religious schools when it comes to charters and choice.
Public schools should not be about any one religion. Separation of Church and State exists so all religions can thrive.
19. Diversity NOT Sameness
America is a melting pot. We are supposed to be known for embracing those who come here. Most of us have ancestors from other countries. That’s why America is unique.
Our public schools should embrace this diversity and be open to all children no matter where they are from.
In 2019, let’s start fresh by assisting children in their schools to get to know and understand that individual differences are what make us unique. Let’s help them learn tolerance, kindness, and understanding.
Happy New Year!