Year after year, it breaks my heart to see the public education system in my home state of Mississippi repeatedly scoring so low in education rankings, particularly when it comes to students in a viscous cycle of underachievement.


It is no secret that teachers in the United States receive little recognition and a salary below their abilities, and their training after hire consists of professional development that rarely fosters much growth.


The traditional school year, with roughly three months of vacation time every summer, was first implemented when America was primarily an agricultural society. We have changed as a nation; today, over 2 million U.S. students attend school on year-round schedules every year in around 3,000 schools in 46 states -- and the majority of U.S. K-12 students aren't spending summers off tilling fields or harvesting crops.


The number of standardized tests that U.S. students take is too high. While I feel that the idea to use tests to hold schools accountable is a good one, the frequency and redundancy of standardized testing has gone too far.


With its combination of Ivy League and prestigious tech schools, and some of the best K-12 systems in the country, Massachusetts is poised to be a leader in the much-anticipated educational-tech explosion that is expected in the next few years.


Substantial educational change will never occur until we as a country decide that enough is enough and make a commitment to change, no matter what it takes.


The blending of cultures in America is both a blessing and curse of the K-12 classroom. With more diversity than ever, teachers have to adjust methods from one student to the next, and from one year to the next.


Imagine a country without public schools - one where schools were run as any other business, with no contributions from tax dollars? What if there were total free markets in education in the United States? Education would become a product for sale, just like any other product on the U.S. market.


School violence, when it occurs, has a high impact on schools and communities where the incident takes place. Rare but deadly incidents of violence, such as the Columbine High School Massacre of 1999 or the more recent school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, bring the harsh realities of school violence to light.


Public education in America needs teachers that are better trained to meet the needs of specific student populations, those that understand the necessary role of distance learning, and those that are willing to speak up to facilitate classroom change. Without these teachers, meaningful education reform is not possible.


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