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Overhauling the U.S. Education System


Teachers employed by states rather than districts. Schools no longer run by districts but by independent contractors. Teenagers who take exams at age 16 that permit them to enroll immediately in community or technical colleges. High-quality, early-childhood education made available to all 4-year-olds and all low-income 3-year-olds.

Those are just a few of the proposals for overhauling the U.S. education system contained in a new report, "Tough Choices or Tough Times," released by a prominent panel whose members include state and local superintendents, former governors and mayors, business executives, and prior U.S. secretaries of education and labor.

But are these good ideas? Some education leaders were quick to criticize most of the proposals for lacking evidence of effectiveness, while others believe the suggestions could push the country in the right direction to compete in a global economy.

What do you think? Are these good or bad ideas? How do you think the U.S. education system needs to be changed?


Bring on the voucher system and let the free enterprise system of capitalist resolve the issues of students not learning. Make it a requirement for parents to take some hours on what their role is and what they need to do to have their children succeed. After all the need to invest in their childrens education, because they will rep the rewards when their children decide on what retirement home they can afford to put their parents in when they retire.


What happened to the system? It appears that the role of the teacher has lost its authority. The last time I saw was that the teacher is the adult and the student is the child. When did this society give children the feeling of entitlement?
Where are the parents? If you are not going to be a parent, why have children? The System needs to give the authority and disciplanary action back to the teachers to teach and provide the positive parent role model that is lacking in the home.

Proposals that are characterized by standardized measures and claimed to address a problem universally are favored by not only policy makers but also many practitioners. What are advocated for in the report might work better somewhere for some population, but defnitely not everwhere or for everybody. In some places, local controlled public education system works very well. It might be unwise to overhual those schools considering that any change entails price. In an era of reform, flexibility is needed.

"criticize most of the proposals for lacking evidence of effectiveness"

Wow. Yet how overwhelming the evidence is that the system we have now lacks effectiveness!

1) Do away with the legal loophole that allows schools to discriminate on the basis of age. This will force schools to place children on the basis of READINESS, rather than make kids who need challenge wait until college to get it and make kids who need extra time and attention attain that through a program so "shameful" that teachers aren't allowed to discuss it. Make giving students the support they need the status quo, rather than the special exeption.

2) Given all the comments about parental involvement, you might think that schools would welcome exactly that. I'm having a hard time finding such a school. I'd be *greatly* in favor
of any form of cooperative schooling - I'd be thrilled to teach for a few hours a week while maintaining my 'day' job. I can't imagine a better form of involvement.

Paraphrasing Jean Anyon, we are trying to clean the air in one side of the screen door. In addition, David Berliner's study about "Our Impoversished View of Educational Reform" makes emphasis on the role of poverty in school reform, will this "overhaul" will help erradicate poverty in our society? Not even the "Every Child Every Promise. Turning failure into action" is going towards a merchantile notion of education. Teachers in the U.S. we need to voice our concerns and not let others talk for us, of course if you agree with having a voice.

I graduated from high school at 16, and my parents left me "all alone" without advice. I was not ready for the university of Washington, or to make proper decisions at the UW level. I ruined a promising future to a mediocre one.

Kids and teachers do not fit into a one size fits all box. Our society needs to value more than a box. The box is defined by testing scores of kids around the world and comparing them to each other. We need to value what our children do well, and what they like to do to channel their gifts into professions they desire. Society needs to be realistic and teach how society and financial structures affect our daily life. Classes such as options trading for stock and foreign currency exchange should be taught in a class designed for teaching entrepreneurial expertise. Classes that offer the intrinsic value of learning should be what we desire to learn and offer to teach. We need many apprenticeships as well, by mentors of the community. Kids need help with transportation and basic needs costs. Our dollars should help our kids reach thier goals and thier plans for their futures. I welcome the idea of the independent contractor, they could become apprentice masters, and the kids who fit into the box will actually do a better job without all the kids who don't.

Although the piece in EdWeek was informative it left the reader lacking many of the profound details of what's on our horizon if we don't snap out of it. If we don't, it appears to be simply a matter of time before we're overtaken.

It's necessary for Americans to read the report published by the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, especially the part written by Marc Tucker that chronicles what's going on now in China and India.

It's a rather chilling account of what we'll be facing in the next decade or two unless we signficantly alter our delivery system of education. Even more alarming, it's not just education reform the report details, it's cultural reform. How are we going to change our ethos, our nation's mindset, to be able to compete with countries like China and India where education is such a valued commodity?

After reading this article, I realized what the problem is with the educational system here in the USA. It is a problem of mediocrity that infects the educational system, all the way down to the students. This is most unfortunate...

Also, many teachers don't feel particularly well thought of by their school districts. This is reflected in how much a teacher is actually paid for their hard work. It's funny that the teachers are the ones doing all the hard work, while the school/district administrators live high on the hog. I find it ridiculous that a teacher get paid less than $50,000 when an administrator makes over $180,000 a year. Increase salaries for teachers and you will find many teachers won't leave the profession like they are presently.

Make teachers in charge of their classrooms, not the administrators or parents. That is something that needs to change and soon. Teachers' hands are tied with the system that has infected the enitre educational landscape.

The URGENCY of the DIGITAL EMERGENCY! AIM for 21st Century Digital Learning Environments.

P.s. Take No Prisoners.

Reforming the current system is critical. Equally critical, we need to remember that like politics, all education is local. National standards are one thing, state or national control over local education is another. While the future of the nation rests on the shoulders of our youth and the quality of the education that we give them, the education process itself happens in individuals. Therefore, we need to do away with the one size fits all style of teaching and look at increasing the quality and effectiveness of what we do with the individual students we teach. Rather than looking to efficiencies and economies of scale, our focus should be on restructuring a top heavy bureaucracy and creating learning environments that are effective. There is no one solution to fixing education, other than to put into effect those practices that produce results.

The conclusions of the report are clear, as are the recommendations. Experts from numerous sectors, public and private, have been warning us for years now that, unless we make radical changes to our system of education, we will quickly become unable to compete on the global playing field. That day is now.

Unless we make those changes, quickly and decisively, we are dooming future generations to struggle in low-paying, service industry jobs. As the commission has stated, the biggest hurdles to change will be the special interest groups who will fight to maintain the status quo. It may take another unpopular federal mandate to cut through the obstacles, but we must do whatever it takes to reform education now.

Change is hard. But sometimes it is best to just do it and get it over with, rather than stretching out the pain.

I am getting close to retirement and the students that enroll in my classes are becoming less capable to complete freshman courses. They have great difficulty completing assignments that just require simple math and the majority does not know how to write clearly. When my children where in high school they rarely had writing assignments in English because the teachers did not have time to grade composition due to their 20 to 30 students classes. At least that was the reason I was given for the lack of writing ability. I have incorporated writing in all my classes and evaluate the students writing as a major portion of their grades. It is imperative that our children learn how to communicate while they are in the public schools and before they attempt to succeed in higher education.
Perhaps we can change the mechanism of learning how to communicate in the public schools by having tutors and specialized teachers, that work with the students, parents and the teachers that are not able to fulfill their duties as educators.
I presently spend one day a week with Gifted and Talented students from the largest school district in our region. They complete six field investigations during a six-week period. The students complete a scientific report and a written analysis of a topic related to the field work they completed. Mental math, field techniques and writing ability are the primary components of the course.
Perhaps such courses could be designed into the public school curriculum. The knowledge of college professors could help both the students and their teachers. The teachers often do not have adequate knowledge in the science disciplines that they are attempting to teach and this method might help them, as well as the students, to gain the abilities that are required in higher education.

Like Chicken Little claiming the sky is falling, people have been decrying the US educational system since Sputnik. In reality, we do a fairly good job of educating our population. We can point our fingers to other countries who seem to do a better job, but we have to ask ourselves if we are making a fair comparison when taking socioeconomics, heterogeneity, culture, and linguistic differences into account.
Of course, we need to improve. Education must constantly be reinvented as society changes in order to be effective. Students must be prepared to function in this global information age.
Providing preschool to low-income families is one way to help do away with the inequities that exist between the classes. Changing the current high school system in some way is also an idea based in substance considering our students loose the most ground from fourth to twelvth grade.
Taking school control away from local authority is not a great idea. Each teacher is a professional whose job requires that they use their expertise to determine what is best for each individual student in their classroom. The further that administrative decision making goes from the classroom, the less input teachers will have.
Many posts refer to increasing parental involvment, and one person said they would appreciate a school that welcomed parent involvment. I say, we don't need parents involved in the schools so much as we need them involved with their children at home. Until we can legislate that and do away with poverty, I'm not sure how much real change we will ever see.

I agree that schools should be under state/government control and uniform throughout the country. There are discrepancies in quality among some schools within a district(town). In my area, you may have a newly renovated "state of the art" school as well as a school that is 100 years old within 10 miles of each other. It doesn't seem fair that students who live in one part of town would have such an extreme advantage over other students who reside elsewhere.

Reseach indicates that the foundational skills for all learning must be acquired before school age. Rather than sending children to school at age 3 or 4, we need dramatic and effective reform. Educating and equiping parents and caregivers to maximize the development of each child must be a part of educational reform if NO CHILD is to be left behind!

Impacting a single generation of parents and caregivers should be considered vital to an educational overhaul.

It seems that in the last 30 years every time the school system gets reformed, the education gets worse and the future looks bleaker. Now we are in the NCLB era, which is, on paper, a great idea. But I hear too many complaints by teachers about having to "teach for the test" instead of towards real content and understanding. As I am just coming out of over 30 years in the "real world" workforce, I can honestly tell anyone who cares that the current crop of recent high school and college grads write, read and speak just half a step above illiterate. When I first started working, everyone knew how to write fairly well, at least well enough to write a memo or a business letter. Today I see letters and memos composed or dictated by 25-30 year old executives to 18-25 year old secretaries and administrative assistants that read as though an immigrant twelve year old wrote them. Either neither part knew how to write a simple letter or memo, or at least the secretary (part of whose job it should be to make the boss's work look good) didn't. But there is no excuse for this, no matter who can't write. Which of these proposals is going to fix that?
And what good does it do to implement any of these reforms if, in the end, our curriculum still is national-test-standardized, and so narrowly, at that. We ARE teaching for THE TEST, and, by doing so, we are overlooking the most important thing I always thought it was the teacher's obligation to teach: to think, to think independently, creatively, boldly, daringly and honestly. To think about everything and how it relates to one's world, one's life, one's needs, and the needs of the world. The only things we really own are our integrity and what we know, both of which shape who we are.
As for contractng out the administration of education, well, let's just hope that benefits the recipients more than our current system of "contracting" health care to HMOs and the like. In my experience, it is never a good idea to put public welfare in the hands of private interests.
Finally, I agree with those who have stated that education is and should be a community-based function. I feel we already have too much involvement from ever-increasing concepts of "local" and "community". As many have already pointed out, education is not a one-size-fits-all commodity. It must be designed for individuals' individual needs, and the teachers are the ones to impelement the design the best way possible.

This is a great way to overhaul the educational system and is something that should have been in place eons ago. THe 16 year olds attending Community colleges for college prep courses is indeed in need especially in the inner cities and rural ares. Kids simply can not make it without a college education and this idea will enable thaose students who would have been left behind to get a fair education; the idea of the 4 and 3 year olds obtaining the Early Childhood education is also an excellent idea. This will give them a jump start on the basics of education. With more parents in the work place, this idea is also a much needed endeavor.

Were there any women on this commission?

I find it interesting that most of this committe has never taught in high school. 16 of 28 are labor, industry, and worst of all, politicians. Of the 12 who have educational backgrounds 7 are college teachers/administrators. This is about taking over education and instead of focusing on a well-rounded person who is a critical and independent thinker, create job seekers with skills for the industrial complex. When was the last time a politician came up with a good idea for anything? When was the last time the government made a problem better instead of worse? Ayn Rand was right.

As a teacher I say bring it on! It is time for a total change, esp. in early childhood education. We are not pushing younger children. They are born in a tech savvy society. Young children are often underestimated. Put them at a computer at 18 months and they will know the basics by two without even pressuring them. (I have seen this in the classroom). Technology was not in place when the educational system was first developed many many years ago. Times have changed drastically and we MUST figure out how to change with it! I agree, there has to be a system in place where parents are accountable.

Iam a 39 year old parent with 3 children ranging 14-9yrs. teaching physics since 11yrs.Basically, there is nothing wrong with the ed. system,it is how it is PERCEIVED by people of different walks.Children knows how to operate a computer but they dont know the tech behind it eg. how a chip is made. to make them learn this we need to DISCIPLINE our children at home and at school by giving appropriate authorities (legally)to parents and teachers.there should be SOCIAL INCENTIVES for parents to educate their children & equally contribute (father & mother)to it.I mean to say social attitude.The adults need to give priorities to their children over their self desires ie to be responsible parents.An old saying "Charity begins at HOME" SIMILARLY EDUCATION BEGINS AT HOME ASWELL.

It is refreshing to see some "out of the box" thinking. However, I have two major concerns. The first is that still, no one is looking at the role parents play in this. We have a huge social issue at hand here. There is study after study on how much better students perform when they are given their basic needs at home and paretns are involved. Everyday we have students who come through our school doors who are missing their basic needs which have been outlined by Maslow making a barrier for learning. Why are schools held solely accountable for learning when parents should be held equally responsibly but aren't?

My second concern with this report is the movement toward much larger organizations for schools. The move from local control to state control if not treated with great care could be a disaster. Some of the countries largest schools are the ones on the "failure" list. They are so big that they can not effectively handle what they have. Making the school systems even larger will help make equality between districts but be wary because a district the size of the entire state could sprial out of control very quickly. If a plan like this were to take place, the states would have to very carefully assess what each district has and needs. This is not something that could be entered into with haste.

Having worked in Industry for nearly 30 years, teaching at University for 12 semesters, volunteering with K-12, researching economic development and thinking on education; it appears to me no one has all the answers. While teaching at a University in the 1990s I began wondering if we are teaching the next generation the appropriate skills. For for our country to be competitive in the 21st century we must have a workforce that has appropriate 21st century skills. We need to think inside the box and outside the box and develop a workforce that is adaptable to the changing competitive nature of the global environment. I suggest emphasis on innovative and entrepreneur thinking that gets the next generation prepared to create products and services that will be needed in this century. Maybe themes throughout the K-XX years that incorporates Scientist, Engineering, Technology, Customer and Business Innovative engine hats would be a step in the right direction. We need to think 21st Century Skill Sets.

There are too many pie-in-the-sky proposals in this report. Teacher salaries at 100k? Get real. It will never happen. Furthermore, it shouldn't. We can attract quality teachers without giving them the moon and making them the target of resentment of average taxpayers who make much less. Get rid of the final two years of high school? And eliminate Friday Night Football and the high school prom? Again, it will never happen. What is the point of making recommendations that are so clearly dead on arrival?

Another thing: Too many commenters, on this thread and elsewhere, simply take the mediocrity of American education as a given. It isn't. Thousands of our high school graduates every year go on to successful post-secondary educational careers and lives as productive citizens. That sounds like success to me. Do we need to do a better job of educating ALL students? Of course. But let's define the problem more precisely before we start calling for a drastic overhaul. It's very fashionable to talk about how awful public schools are; maybe if we look at exactly what schools do and don't do well we would be in a better position to make informed and reasonable recommendations.

As an example, the report calls for more leadership, cooperation, and creativity in the workforce. If that's really true, where are the proposals for increasing students' participation in athletics and the arts, where creativity, leadership and cooperation are essential to success.

We must take back the schools from politicians and administrators, and put teachers in charge!

Since returning to the educational profession 7 years ago all I hear about is the system is o.k. and nothing needs to be done. Unfortunately for education those that put themselves as leaders in the field have taken no action and are forcing those that are footing the bill to do so. I am amazed at the lack of change that has occured within the profession (and I use that loosely with the advent of unions in education) since I began teaching in 1969. I left the profession in 1977 and returned in 1999 and found the only difference was the inclusion of computers around the buildings. We need to change the way we teach students and what we teach them. Society no longer a static environment yet we are still teaching like we are in the 1800's. Who controls the hiring, firing or purse strings is not he issues it comes back to leadership and the ability to create a flexible system that adapts to what is needed for all students.

I have started reading the executive summary of Tough Choices or Tough Times. I am both impressed and depressed with the report and its suggestions. I would sure like to be paid in the six figures after a 33 year career, but the school districts in my area would never get support for that. The people here just can't pay that bill.

I don't think there is a private contractor in the world who could run American Schools. After a few months they would be assigned a number in the mental hospital. Schools just don't work the way you plan for them.

Kids should be kids and going into an academic setting as early as 3 or 4 just isn't the right thing for them. One of the most important things we forget about kids is the importance of being a kid, being at home in a safe learning environment that includes neighborhood friens and adventures. That learn by doing thing...

I could agree with exams at 16 if there was a reasonable program designed for the years after 16 and before college. Even at 18, college kids are having a tough time sorting out school responsibilities from fun.

And then there is the issue of jobs for all those early graduates...

Take education off the political plate and but families and children back on. Support the heck out of getting our culture and society to a healthier place. Get drugs and alcohol consumption under control and out of the lives of children. Put happiness at the top of the list. When that is done, I would be glad to get a raise to $100,000 a year for being a teacher.

Schools control is where it should be. Give the local districts the ability to spend their money where they know it is needed. Some fat cats in a privately run school plan would spend the money on meetings, consultants, and textbook companys with kickbacks going to the CEOs. Local control can be more accountable. Teachers are teaching their hearts out. It's the parents and students who need a wake up call!

The U.S. Public School System educates and graduates a larger percentage of the U.S. population than any other nation. The percentage of literate U.S. adults far outstrips the percentages of literate Chinese or Indian students. There is no reasonable comparison, if we are going to talk globally. This is the same tired, overused nonsense that was contained in "A Nation at Risk".
No Child Left Behind did nothing whatsoever to reform education, primarily because there were and are no reforms included in the law. All that has been accomplished in the 5 years since this useless law was enacted is that a new level of adminstartors has been added to our schools. Students will eventually pass the exams. If one has unlimited opportunities to take an exam, one will eventually pass it. Any half effective , moderately intelligent teacher is quite capable of writing a multiple choice exam that all of his/her students can pass.
States have not, to date, shown themselves to any more competent to run schools than local governments. Private industry does not have a particularly good record either.
Like everything in our nation, education is more costly. Some would have us use a business model to evaluate education, saying that a business that does not improve with costs, will not last long. I pay a lot more for gasoline today than just ten years ago, but my car does not go any faster or run any more effeciently on the same gasoline. The heating oil and electricity that I but do not make my home any warmer or brighter for the extra costs.
Education is the realm of educators, not legislators. I am a teacher. I do it well. I do not fix plumbing or electrical fixtures. I hire a plumber or an electrician to do what I do not do well. I hire them and pay them for their expertise, for what they are proficient at. Education is little more than helping students find theri proficiencies, what they are good at, what they are able to do.
If the government really wants to help the public school system, they will fully and realistically fund it and keep their ideas to themselves.

State/National control often does more to harm than it does to help. Local control via the local community is key to a caring, productive, and effective educational system. State and nation should be providing "guidelines" within which we operate, but they should not try to be the all-knowing dictator when it comes to "how" things are done.

One could predict virtually all of the recommendations by this group prior to reading the report just based on who they are and what they have always promulgated previously. Privatization is a constant mantra of the creators of NCLB (the ultimate example of arrogance and ignorance regarding effective learning and teaching) and from the authors of this report. That's like putting car salesmen in charge of NASA because they purportedly have a prorietary interest in things that go zooom zooom.

This nation's education system does need revamping but it's the curriculum standards that need a complete overhaul to be come 21st century related and the educational system needs to let go of the agrarian time schedules and focus on learning pre-school through grade 16.

Part of "the problem" with our educational system is that we have too reductive a concept of education. Education is more than schooling. To reform education, we would have to examine what prevents our neighborhoods and townships from being real communities, whose "local control" might have some democratic meaning and childrearing intelligence behind it rather than just bottom-line concerns of unwilling taxpayers. This means that colleges, schools, and departments of education themselves must be reformed; the education system will never improve until their essentialist idea of education=schooling is broadened and their faculties value imagination and insight, children and inter-generational communities, more than they value "repeatable methods that produce repeatable results"--as if that idea even made sense for education! Colleges, schools, and departments of education need to recognize multiple educational media and engage in educational critiques of community life and culture. We need to start having inquiries into COMMUNITIES: how well are they working together to raise their children? to enable parents' continued learning as needed? to provide after-school and after-work supports for intergenerational educational opportunities? Strong communities DO make strong schools. But the proliferation of massive malls and white flight have destroyed our downtowns; the proliferation of fast food has destroyed home rituals around the table; the proliferation of mega-churches has destroyed the concept of the neighborhood that cares for one another. "The problem" with our educational system is that hardly anyone looks at the educational consequences of the effects that wanton corporatism has had upon the fabric of community life in the US. The current proposals are just tinkering and shuffling compared to the real cultural self-examination necessary if real EDUCATION is even to become a possibility. Read Jane Addams, and update her ideas. THEN you might see an educational system worthy of the name!

If teachers are employed by states, would they be paid the salary that they made before, or would it be more. What about benefits? Districts run by independent contractors, can be good or bad. I am in favor of good early childhood education for all, because that will save money in the long run.

Lots of politician bashing in these comments--that's the easy route. Talk about the issues instead.

I think the major ideas contained in the report are bold and with merit. Early childhood education. Possibility of graduating early for guarantee of admission into voc. or 4 year college. Advanced high school curriculum for those that stay. Paying teachers more up front, by implementing less expensive benefits packages. Supporting life long learning.

Let's get on it!

We need to do several things to improve education in the U.S.:

1) MERIT PAY FOR TEACHERS---as the current system stands, there is little, if any incentive for teachers to do well...and the only way to get ahead in terms of salary is to leave the classroom...or to teach for 30 years and let your seniority accrue. All teachers have to do to keep their jobs now is to simply not be horrible. What a shame that we set the bar so low. In almost any other professional field there are opportunities for advancement. Why not in teaching?

2) CHANGE TEACHER TRAINING. education should not be available as an undergraduate degree. Instead, teachers should be required to obtain a degree in their subject area, with actual teacher training occurring at the graduate level. This would lend more credibility to the profession and attract a higher level of talent. Teaching is important to our society in a similar way that doctors are...yet we don't make teachers go through the same kind of intensive training.

3) SCHOOL CHOICE. I am NOT inf favor of vouchers for private schools, but I believe that access to charter schools should be expanded and that there should be increased competition between schools. No school should have a captive student population. Instead, schools that fail will fall victim to basic market economics: If a school can't/won't get the job done, parents will take their child to a school that does.

Following Susan's remarks, I would like to know why we should expect any of the proposed changes to improve the environing conditions of a genuinely educative experience? The worth of a civil education has ALWAYS been measured by whether or not it lends to the development of the whole person; bringing harmony to our identities as individuals and as citizens. National pride (and indeed, national fear) justify global market domination as the chief end of education, but no genuine theory of education can follow from global market domination, because no concept of the whole person can follow from global corporatism. Real education reform must take a good long look at the problem of community uprootedness, which is a result of corporatism run amok. Fast food has replaced the family meal, once integral to a child's character development. The dinner table must be recognized as a (THE) priveleged site of genuine education. I could go on and on. Most importantly, we must accept the fact that school reform is neither the starting place nor the centerpiece of education reform. Education without the whole person is not education, and the whole person cannot exist outside of active, interested engagement with the community.

One of the best things we could do to begin to fix the educational headaches in this country is to immediately begin to issue school vouchers against the taxes that are collected from landowners to support the local "government" school systems. It has been proven time and again that most private, non-government supported schools at all levels teach students better. If a school cannot make the grade when teaching our kids then a parent should be free to remove their student to a better teaching environment and re-direct the funds they have been forced to pay through taxes to that school entity. Competition will breed a better public school system where no mandate (NCLB or otherwise) could.

I agree with the notion of getting rid of administrators (even though that's my current job title). Many administrators have never been classroom teachers and have no knowledge of any subject other than educational pedagogy. No wonder so many schools are such a mess -- particularly those in urban areas. Educators should be expert at something other than bureaucratic red tape and educational fads. I also agree that teacher salaries should top $100K. It's hard work!

I agree with a number of comments above and find most of the discussion poorly informed; symptomatic of a lot of disfunctional thinking that has ruined policy in other areas of our public domain. This country has a rich and great heritage but few argue that much has gone poorly in recent times. I fear entrusting educational reform to those who gave us and allowed Iraq, the three dollar gallon of gas, and free enterprise that promotes pillaging executives.

Educators are considerred professionals but are not really treated as such. I agree the training for teachers should be more rigorous. There is little in the way of promotion. An educators career is rather flat. Pay raises should be tied to merit that is apolitical as schools are already extremely political organizations. Educators should be compensated for continuous professional development and training. Organizational responsibility could be allocated and compensated to those who acquire the higher levels of training.

Giving teachers adminstrative responsibility while taking away actual classrooom hours in a day with added pay might be a draw for veterans. This may alleviate the need to regularly double the number of administrators who are making the enterprise rather top heavy.

As an educator, pay raises do sound enticing. I am also a citizen who wants an America and an educational system to be proud of. I have worked in schools that generate more anxiety than pride. Many professionals work extremely hard. We need to find ways to make Educational careers more respected and compensate those who earn it.

Here is a novel idea; lets fund education more. Education is often the budgetary line that gets cut even in surplus years. Teachers are paid a horrifically low amount and are often subject to being paid only once a month to reduce administrative costs of payroll.Our dedicated teachers have to contend with living paycheck to paycheck, often waiting for the next monthly amount. It is a hugely double standard because we expect teachers to be "public servants" while letting rich corporations run rampant on progressive measures to create equality among workers, regardless of what country they live in, and environmental sustainability.Capitalism is not all that it is cracked up to be. Those with capital are rewarded while the masses beg for living wages and decent living conditions (globally) I find the calls for reform as mostly political pandering since we are lacking consistently in funding education at the levels that the citizens in this country deserve. It is my opinion that to have a fully functioning democracy, we must have a fully functioning and realized public education system. Besides, more schooling is not going to make kids smarter or more competitive, just more bored. The goal should be to teach students how to think creatively and strategically, that does not take more schooling but better schooling. More money, more integration of smarter ways of thinking and doing, more empowerment and letting go of antiquated ideas about schooling and students. In other words, content must be relevant to student's lives, meta-cognitive awareness needs to be taught in every instructional strategy and students need to learn through projects that have real world applications.

first of all i am a very involved parent of 4 children ranging in ages of 16-6. i feel like someone else had mentioned that all schools in the districts need to be on the same page instead of teaching different things and some kids having more advantage than other due to a school being newer and the other being and older school..it shouldn't matter they should all be teching the same... the education system does need to make changes but only changes that will benefit the kids and not those who are too busy trying to line their own pockets.. nto be honest i reall don't see it happening as it seems that in reading the article they are tryng to please too many people..i say just do right by the kids...


1. Merit Pay; This has been tried, in many forms, in many states, at various times during the history of education. Merit pay usually necomes bonuses for student achievement. A much better incentive is better overall pay scales.
2. Teacher training; While I agree that teachers should be trained in graduate school, not all teachers are specialists, as in teachers of one subject, so thatthere will be generalists with generalist undergraduate programs and undergraduates that are intending to be teachers can, like doctors and lawyers, take pre-education programs.
3. School choice is great when there are choices. There are areas of our lovely nation that simply do not have schools to choose from. Market forces are not reliable indicators of quality, even in commodities and industry. School is not a profit business and there is little, if any research to support the idea that private education is or has done particularly better than public education.

One possible and feaseable reform to education would be to professionalize teaching, eliminate the individual state credentialing/ licensing programs and replace them with graduate degrees that are universally recognized.
Another immediate reform would be eliminating the entire No Child Left Behind Act. The money saved would go a long way towards increasing teacher sallaries.

I’m not sure that school reform is even possible until all parties stop playing the blame game. Schools blame the parents. Parents blame the schools. Students blame everyone but themselves. Teachers and administrators are involved in power struggles every day over control of the classrooms. Teachers are buried in so much paperwork and red tape that actual instruction suffers because of the time it takes to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s. In 7 years of teaching, I have come to believe that there will be no learning, good bad or otherwise, until order is restored to each individual classroom. Until there is discipline and accountability for the students, no educational reform will make a difference. Academics must be placed first in schools, and extra-curricular activities take a back seat, even if it means they are eliminated altogether. For the people concerned about “letting kids just be kids”, the time for that is over by the time they get to secondary school. They have done nothing but “be kids” for so long that now they are so far behind that they have to play catch up to even learn basic skills. They need to realize that the schools weren’t created “for the kids.” Schools were created to produce an educated population, capable of running this country effectively. I honestly believe at this point that nothing short of completely doing away with our current method of schooling and building a new model based on one from another, more successful country, will improve our standing in the global community. Initially this would seem cost prohibitive, but how much is it costing us to continue to send generations of illiterates into our workforce?

We spend to much time criticizing and not enough time finding solutions to the deficits in public education. Obviously public education needs reform but shouldn’t solutions come from actual educators who understand students and the classroom rather than politicians whose interests lie in re-election?

Vouchers, state ran districts... I encourage this to show once and for all that teachers (the majority of them) do the best with what we are given. Let the states overtake districts and replace the current teachers and administration – you can change the staff but you can’t change the population.

Since when has educating a child been the sole responsibilty of a teacher? Americans seek to find blame anywhere they can and tend to not take responsibility for their actions. Someone is always to blame for everyone's mishaps. Even educators tend to fall into this belief as high school blames middle school, middle school blames elementary schools, and elementary teachers blame the parents. Someone else is always at fault and we are not taking responsiblity for any of our actions. Who is going to take responsibility for successes and failures of children? These children who are not reading or writing will be leaders of tomorrow and what a sad outlook this will be for all of us. I find it amazing that so many parents are willing to entrust their child’s entire future to public education without any enrichment from them. I am both an educator and a parent and I believe that it is my responsibility to provide my child with an education and with experiences they would not otherwise have. It is my responsibility as a parent to make sure my child is being taught by the very best and this happens from parent involvement. I care to argue that children with involved parents do just fine with the current system.

As an educator, I also believe in accountability; teachers, like other professionals, should be held accountable for their actions in the classroom. Students should be reading long before the exit elementary school but not all children are created equal and the system is set up to believe they are. This cookie cutter approach to education is failing. Chronological age means nothing in terms of readiness and development. Contrary to the way our system is currently designed, all children do not develop at the same rate, some actually require a little more time while others do not. All six years olds are not created equal and all come to school with a vast difference in early childhood experience. For a system to expect the child who has been read to since birth to be equal in ability to a child who has never seen a book is a failure in the system, not the teaching.

If we want to look at blame and fault, shouldn’t we look at the system as a whole? Where does the responsibility lie in the education of our children? If our children are not successful in this current system, shouldn’t we look at making changes to the system?

When any "commission" produces a report on education, it should be required to make available contact with the authors and the team mandatory. I have called 3 of the listed contributors to have none return the call. What are you hiding? If as former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley tells the world: "It will stimulate discussion", how on Earth can discussion proceed if writers hide access? We already have "major projects" isolated from one another, not even recognizing the existence of the other. And why is " higher education" left off the hook when discussions are raised about "higher standards" and " student academic success" and " accountability"? Further, why is it necessary to have national Forums ( PTC-MIT-EDC)AIAA funded, at NAS on the missing elements "T&E" of STEM education when such as Federal NCLB pushes only language and math skills? Why does so much confusion remain on technology and technology education and confusion continues on " educational technology" as only a part of: " technology education." STEM education is supported by the NSF but confused in even the " New Commission On The Skills of The American Workforce ( pages 6 and 8 as examples).Science and Technology are not the same animals. Technology is older than science, holds distinctive features and history and calls forth distinctive treatment for educational purpose. John Dewey called this issue forward in many of his writings. Nobel Laureate Gunnar Myrdal said: " Eventually, the facts will kick." Unfortunately they appear not to be "kicking" in the USOE or in this Administration.

Supposition is that " reading and math" are the only base skills for all youngsters. When, in fact, they are but two of the basics. One would not see this in the NCLB. And why are States permitted to have their own assessments of learning with no correlation to other states and none to NAEP. Is this simply another WPA project of the Federal Government? Imagine the confusion in safety standards for automobiles, furnaces, child seat belts, highway construction, building construction,with each state setting its own standards? Suppose doctors had different standards for treatment of each disease of condition and did not build the core of knowledge.
Is comparison between learning anything in California, Grade 5 and in Indiana, Grade 5 detrimental to either state or the children in respective schools?

The set of proposals cannot be dismissed outright because some like early childhood education are progressive while some like contractor management of schooling are reactive, a reaction stemming from the perceived inability of educational executives to meet stakeholder demands. However, I am not certain that taking the management of schooling away from school districts will solve the problem of the unacceptable return on educational investment as perceived by the various stakeholder groups including labor, business, and government.

The essence of strategy is the continuous thinking by the executive team led by the superintendent regarding how they will use available scarce resources to add the greatest possible educational value to students. So far, educational executives are yet to embrace this strategic perspective and by default continue to pursue a production orientation strategy that fails to consider the educational needs of students.

It is also unfortunate that educational reform policies have not helped matters by directing attention to the long-run needs of districts as educational organizations to become more strategic in the ways they use their resources to maximize long-term value of education. Rather, reform policies have added to district woes by forcing them to focus on short-term, test score increases. In the process, reformers become frustrated with school districts and look for solutions that will likely throw the baby out with the bath water.

Improving the quality of district executive team by making them more entrepreneurial in orientation, embracing program research and development, and continuous improvement of schooling operations will go a long way to make public education the "great equalizer" function that it is meant to serve in a democratic society.

I have no doubt that contractors have their place in public education not as a competitive alternative to districts but as means of leveraging district performance through subcontracting of those tasks and activities where such contractors have superior distinctive competences. By its nature, public education may not be suitable for market economics for the simple reason that educational consumption is directed not at consumer satisfaction or utility but student capital gain. In order words, society expects students to emerge from education with a greater productive capacity. Given the variable social capital base of students, market operators as profit maximizers have an incentive to avoid the more costly-to-educate students or only educate them to the limits of their required profitability.

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Recent Comments

  • Philip Abode/ Educational Strategy Researcher: The set of proposals cannot be dismissed outright because some read more
  • Dr.Wes Perusek: When any "commission" produces a report on education, it should read more
  • Fran / elementary school teacher: We spend to much time criticizing and not enough time read more
  • CL/Secondary Science Teacher: I’m not sure that school reform is even possible until read more
  • Bob, Teacher/parent: Blake; 1. Merit Pay; This has been tried, in many read more




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