Serious education issues in public schools are recycled because the ulterior motive of some is to end public education. Research is repeatedly ignored. Why are school administrators clueless? How is it that legislators repeatedly recreate policy we know is harmful for students? Each heading contains a link to proof.
End Retention. Research is clear that retained students might appear to improve at first, but they fall back into a cycle of failure. The connection between retention and dropping out is real. So why is Alabama signing on to third grade retention? Not only should they drop it like a hot potato, states like Michigan and Florida should end it too. There are other ways to help children catch up, like looping and multi-level class placement. Schools need to be creatively responsive to students with what works. If schools weren’t ruled with an iron fist, teachers could do this.
End huge class sizes. All classes don’t need to be lowered, like P.E. and band, although these classes need to still be manageable and safe levels. But early elementary classes where children are learning to read would be better smaller. Middle and high school classes where teachers can better get to know students would benefit by having smaller numbers.
End homework/busywork. Even our youngest students spend hours on busy work. Teachers should ease up. They are promoting unproven accountability measures.
Denying recess is detrimental . Like retention, the amount of research in favor of recess is overwhelmingly in its favor, but those who strictly want to enforce accountability, in other words, close schools, continue to deny many children recess. Twenty minutes a day of organized P.E. from an outside for-profit group like Playworks is not recess! Children understand how to do recess. They simply need teachers to supervise them as they play. They know how to play on their own.
Quit denying children play. Wonder why children are anxious and having trouble in school? Pushing academics down to the littlest learner while ignoring the importance of play is harmful. Years of research by developmental experts show this. Why are school districts permitting noneducators to discredit Piaget and push developmentally inappropriate learning onto our littlest learners?
Stop making kindergarten first grade. Whoever let outsiders and those with no understanding of child development take over kindergarten? We know it is harmful to raise expectations beyond what a child is capable of doing.
Quit ignoring the arts. Replacing the arts with more of the same academic content is dull and uninteresting to students. Research is clear that the arts improve achievement in academic subjects and could keep students from dropping out. But the arts are important simply because we need to promote talented youth! Bring back the arts with real art and music teachers to all public schools!
Stop eliminating libraries and librarians. It is well-established that school libraries and qualified librarians are important to learning. If schools aren’t going to highlight books and reading in their schools, how can they expect students to read well?
Stop disregarding the reasons for the teacher shortage. There are many teachers who want to work in good schools where they are fully supported. But you can’t treat professionals badly, refuse them resources they need to teach, and laud groups like Teach for America with five weeks of training. You can’t underpay professional teachers either, and expect them to continue to work in shoddy conditions. Teachers are being driven out of their profession in order to replace them, with technology which will mean a profit for tech companies and control of students through data.
End high-stakes testing. Today’s test scores are not used to help children learn. They are used to condemn public schools. Tests are only useful when they provide information to teachers and parents to better understand students and help them learn.
Don’t replace high-stakes testing with nonstop online testing. Those who wish to see online instruction replace teachers have been critical of high-stakes testing. But they want to see nonstop online test and nonstop data collection.
Quit collecting online behavioral data. Social-emotional learning is much about behavioral data collection. It’s unnecessary and raises privacy questions.
Quit ignoring IDEA. We live in a wealthy nation, and there’s no excuse not to fully fund the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. Public schools are where all students with disabilities should be able to get the assistance they need to best learn. Every school needs to offer a continuum of services for this to happen. It is within our reach.
Stop eliminating teacher qualifications! Too many individuals are being trained in unregulated, fly-by-night teacher education programs, or five-week programs, often in charter schools that lack transparency. If you wish to be a teacher there are no shortcuts. Seek out a reputable college of education in an established university, not a for-profit college or a charter school program.
I’m sure I’m leaving something out. Please let me know and I will add to this list.
I hate to break it to you, but there are such things as two large classes in band and PE, also in chorus. especially at the elementary school when children are just learning new instruments, small classes are much more ideal, meaning 8 to 12 in a group. Even once kids become more proficient musicians, there can be too many to fit in a room, and too many to differentiate instruction.
The same can be said for PE. Too many kids and two few adults doing physical activity, spread out either any gym or outside or in both places, can lead to unsafe situations. I have seen kids get hurt in gymnastics units in middle school (and lack of supervision in locker rooms can also be a problem) because too many kids/teacher.
Small classes in all subjects, as long as there are enough kids in musical ensembles and team sports to create a critical mass for success.
And while we are at it, can we fight for all elementary schoolers to have art, music, and PE at least two times per week? Kindergarteners in my district are getting 35 to 40 minutes once weekly.:-‘(
Nancy Bailey says
Sure! I’m not going to argue with you about having safe numbers.
I was thinking about an article I read a few years back about the problems they had lowering class sizes in California. I do not have the article to revisit, but as I recall, one of the complaints was that they lowered class sizes across the board. P.E. didn’t have enough students for relay games. It would seem like every school and district could work this out logically.
Certainly increase art and music time for young children.
Thank you. Great comment!
Rhonda Sitnikau says
What would you consider for a number when a class size gets to be too large?
Nancy Bailey says
Great question! I think teachers and administrators need to consider the students and their needs and work together to make that determination. Twenty is sometimes considered a comfortable number, but if a student with disabilities or second language needs is placed in the class, the number might be smaller. Overcrowded schools don’t allow for any such planning to occur. I don’t think most schools give any thought to the make-up of a class or the numbers.
Roy Turrentine says
In high school, the issue is not only class size, but how many total children a teacher sees in a daily basis. I have noted on various posts, that I know people who work in private schools filled with compliant, highly motivated students. One told me once that he has never seen more than 65 students per year in all his forty odd years of teaching. If this is what the highly motivated are judged to need, what about the stressed and neglected? We should surely cap numbers somewhere around 90 at least.
As for your comment on homework, I both agree and disagree. I am in agreement that I have seen a lot of homework given to students that did not have anything to do with learning the material. That said, the theory of homework is sound. You are taught something in class. A period of forgetting takes place, then homework reinvigorates within the mind what was to be recalled or practiced. If this is too intensive for children, we should back off on the amount of stuff they are presented. I see no alternative to the cycle of teaching a concept and re-visiting it after a period of elapsed time. Sounds like homework to me.