How I’d change the public schools

If I were President of the United States, I would convene a commission to advise me on governmental policy toward the public schools.  A clear majority of the commission members would be public school teachers with at least 10 years’ experience, who all had won state “teacher of the year” awards.  The rest of the commission members would be people who attended public schools and whose children attend public schools.

teacher public school Billionaires such as Bill Gates are pushing “reforms” such as charter schools and high-stakes testing, both of which are untried experiments.  The purpose of an experiment is to test a theory, and it is foolish to act on the theory before the results are in.  The billionaire reformers want schools to be more entrepreneurial, but a defining characteristic of entrepreneurs is that most of them fail.  That’s why the successful ones deserve our respect.

They may be right in assuming that educational credentials are no measure of classroom competence, but that’s a different thing from assuming that youngsters fresh out of college know more about teaching than people who’ve been doing it for years.

LINKS

What Teachers Know by Nancy Flanagan for Education Week.

I’m a proud public school teacher; Here’s a glimpse at what I do by a teacher who posts as teacherbiz.

Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools by Joanne Barken in Dissent magazine.

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3 Responses to “How I’d change the public schools”

  1. mark adams Says:

    Wait, let’s not turn down help from billiionaires. One problem with education ( and everything else) is lack of money. Although experienced board members is a great idea, I am not convinced your criteria meet the needs of the students. Antiquated ideas drag down some ambitious models. Let the best and brightest… the teachers…help solve the problem instead of people who have never been in a classroom or have too many years in a class room. The former are idealist and the later are bitter.

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  2. philebersole Says:

    My mother taught school for more than 40 years. She was greatly beloved. Her former pupils used to try to pull strings to get their own children into Mrs. Ebersole’s class.

    My mother over the years developed her own methods of teaching which she used except during the one or two days a year when supervisors from the Board of Education came to observe her class. On those days she taught according to whatever educational theory happened to be in fashion at the time.

    Nobody ever asked her what she thought of the curriculum or educational policy. Nobody ever created a system by which she could mentor younger teachers and pass on her hard-won knowledge.

    The Gates, Broad and Walton foundations are not so much trying to “help” as to reshape American education in the image of the business corporation. I think Bill and Melinda Gates know about as much about how to teach school as my mother knew about selling software.

    You’re right that improving the schools probably would cost money. It’s much cheaper to scapegoat school teachers.

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  3. Mark Adams Says:

    Your mother’s legacy is what every teacher aspires to create. Your mom was one of the few who made a difference. Schools are different now. Many are daycares. Today, an educator has much more responsibilty for several reasons not the least of which is keeping administrators happy. To touch on an earlier thread, teaching is more than being in a combat zone. It is presenting a lesson plan while being a surrogate parent, a psychologist and some times the best adult friend.This is how I see the future of education: the rich get an education (private or religious schools)and the poor are no longer afforded anything close. Everything is becoming ‘privatized’ to reward the rich.

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