Fixing our Schools
Letter To The Editor:
Fixing our Schools.
(a) Diversify Employees: Hire educators with experience of university study from out-of-county, out-of-state. Hire the best candidate, not necessarily the local one. Avoid "Academic Incest" - hiring a local graduate who went to the local university and got a job because they know some one. Embrace new ideas and study them without prejudice.
(b) Choose a standard curriculum K-12. Each school should teach the same thing in the same grade among all teachers in each school using the same supplies and materials. The current curriculum system seems to be one of chaos rather than consistency and requires teachers to spend too much time on review the following year in order to bring all students to a level field.
(c) Spread the wealth: A grant writer must work for the district, not an individual school. How can you offer an equal education if elementary school "A' got a grant for 30 new computers, but elementary school 'B' and "C' receive nothing. Grants must go to the district and be equally divided among schools of the same grade level to whom the grant was awarded.
(d) Standardize "extra and co-curricular activities." Each school should offer the same opportunities that prepare the child for the next level and feed off of each other. If the high school has a drama department, then each school should also offer a drama department, just as each school has a sports team that feeds the next level team.
(e) Foot the bill for employee training and certification: Just as in any other company, there is added value to an employee when they are properly trained and obtain new certifications. Both Maytag and McDonald's cover the costs for training and certification.
(f) Peer observations and evaluations: Teachers should evaluate and observe each other's performance. A sixth grade reading teacher cannot teach if the student hasn't received the skills necessary at the 5th grade level. Peer observations and evaluations would require teachers of the next level to observe teachers that feed their programs directly. Sharing responsibility for the students progress would improve quality.
(g) Wage parity for after hours programs: Pay all faculty sponsors of all school sanctioned extra and co-curricular activities, a fair wage. The current system is totally unfair to the students and their sponsors. In some cases we spend $350.00 per student for a football coaching staff, but won't spend a dime on a cheerleader coach. We'll pay the head coach thousands of dollars to teach 50 kids football for a few months, but pay the band director a few hundred dollars to spend the same amount of time "coaching" nearly one hundred students. Develop a base hourly wage and pay all sponsors according to the hours they spend, the experience they share, the demands of the position; like any other part-time job.
(h) Purchase locally: It should be Board policy that purchasing is done within the tax base community, from businesses that are locally owned and operated. Our schools, teachers, and administrators spend tens of thousands of dollars purchasing products from mail order catalogs and major corporations when similar products at fair prices are available from local merchants. Such tax-base spending would feed the local economy and help our schools. The schools would help themselves.
(i) Prepare students to be productive members of the community: The economy of our community is manufacturing and retail based. Yet, our schools do little to provide business education programs that teach the fundamentals of retailing, hotel and business management, or food services. Nor do our schools help our students develop manufacturing labor, and social skills needed in our job market. A business and educator partnership is required between all areas of business and our schools so that students are given the skills needed to compete in the job market while at the same time reducing the training burden of employers.
(j) Financing Education- Eliminate the school property tax: Our schools don't build houses, they help build lives. Education is a business and a service, and as such, a business should be directly responsible for it's own income. The current system leaves the schools without accountability and our school boards with conflicting interests - Keeping taxes low, raising salaries to attract better qualified and skilled employees, improving quality of service. With the skills we learn, our schools promise that we will earn an income. Transferring the school financing burden from property owners, to income earners at Fixed and Flat rate of just 1.5% will increase the funds available to our schools and give every property owner a tax cut. At the same time our schools will be forced to insure an education of good quality and viability, or their "product" - the graduate, will not be able to produce an income for themselves or the schools system. In other words, a partnership between the schools - "producer" and our community - "consumer."