Skip to main content

One of the biggest problems in education (that no one seems to think about) is the negative impact of constantly reorganizing schools and curriculum and tests. Change itself may be making our schools less effective. It takes a few years for a teacher to get really good at teaching a certain course in a certain context.  By reorganizing everything every few years we are ensuring that no one ever gets "good" at anything.

The schools that are most often impacted by constant change are the "struggling" schools. Since these are the schools that need to be "fixed." Everyone from the teachers to the principal to the superintendent to the governor to the president is eager to try something new. But, nothing ever seems to work, this has been going on for decades and we still hear the same news stories about "failing" schools.

Will anyone ever solve the mystery?

But, maybe there is no mystery.

Good schools, after all, do exist.  There are many public and private schools in the country that send their students to top colleges, that have students who score off the charts on all test etc. So, we know it is possible for a school to be "good."

All we really need to do, then, is study the way that the existing good schools work then do everything possible to make that same environment in the "bad" schools. Simple. Why has no one done this?

Let's consider...

Things Good Schools Have in Common:

  1. a stable faculty with little turn-over
  2. a wide variety of courses not just the "three Rs"
  3. a wide variety extracurricular activities
  4. safe environments free from most violence
  5. parents who are involved in the school
  6. treating students with respect, not like little criminals
  7. students take high stakes tests less often than at "bad" schools
  8. Expect teachers to do much more than just punch in and punch out  
  9. have a student body whose needs are generally met ( that is few students are hungry, homeless, or under other forms of basic stress)

But good schools are also very diverse  in other areas, it seems there isn't any one curriculum or set of tests that makes a school good. So, much of the stuff we tinker with is very likely to be important. I mean, I think at some level everyone knows this, but to make bad schools good would mean dealing with issues like poverty and homelessness, it'd mean doing something about the basic quality of life that these young people have. And that would be expensive.

So, instead we get these gimmicks. Like paying teachers based on how students do on tests. (you might as well pay me based on the roll of a die) It feels slimy and cheesy and cheap and deep down we know it won't work and then in two years there will be a new gimmick. But, at least we "did something."

And the real tragedy is that this constant change is having and impact a negative one.

But, it never stops because every politician has to "do something" about education and since we are not willing as a people to invest in the next generation by making more good schools we get the endless gimmick mill, and it isn't helping.

Why can we just stop, take a deep breath and start fixing the things that everyone knows need to be fixed? How about a school where the goal would be to create stability. A school with resources like a dentist, a nurse and therapists to help students and their families physically and emotionally. A school where students who act out are responded to with the kind of discipline and love required to get to the root of their behaviors. A school where no single student would be able to disrupt learning for others because it would have the resources to work with those young people who need extra attention. A school with lots of activities, including opportunities to work at educational paid internships.

Such a school would not just produce higher tests scores but it would develop the kind of people we need in America the next generation of creative minds, it would not be easy or cheap to create a school that, as much as possible, gives a stable nurturing and environment that the well-to-do take for granted for their kids to everyone. But I think it would more than pay off.

Why can't we talk about how we might do this rather than these gimmicks?


Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Because We Agreed to Become a Conservative (6+ / 0-)

    party 40 years ago and we stopped dealing with the poor and talking about them.

    Son and spouse of ex teachers here, they talked about the economic drivers often.

    I was once support staff peripheral to an experimental study somewhat along the lines of head start with older impoverished kids. The program would bring them cultural opportunities, coaching of parents on how to support homework and be involved in schools, opportunity for tutors and for visits to college campuses, etc.

    They were getting promising results but it appeared to me to cost about as much to fix a poor kid this way as paying for a middle class upbringing for them. A serious fraction of it anyway.

    Education reform, as with any conservative policy, is the result intended. Nobody cares what results the policy brings other than the profits of course.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 11:26:00 AM PST

  •  Because it would mean committing resources (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    futurebird, Mostel26

    (...and probably a lot of them) toward properly educating children that a large number of people in this country don't believe should be the beneficiaries of that level of resource commitment.


    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 11:48:16 AM PST

  •  All I can say is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I totally agree. But we don't have the will to fix the things that really need fixing so we just churn because movement makes it look like we are "doing something."

    Of COURSE stability is important, which is why "turnaround" and closing failing schools should be outlawed, especially for impoverished communities where kids already suffer from too much transience.

    I knew years ahead of time which teachers I'd be likely to have for what grades or subjects. If I pulled out my first grade and eighth grade photos, 75% of the kids would be the same. Our parents never dreamed of missing a parent-teacher night (My mother was president of the PTA in grade school, then high school, then city, then state.) We had food on the table and roofs over our heads (the same roofs for our entire childhoods usually). We had quiet rooms of our own to study in.

    THAT is why 99% of us graduated from high school and 95% of us went to college, and four boys in my high school class went to Harvard, and we had two dozen National Merit semi-finalists.

    The kids in high-poverty schools need tools to keep up with kids in communities like I grew up in — not more churn.

    Jon Husted is a dick.

    by anastasia p on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 01:54:11 PM PST

  •  Right now, high on my "gimmick" list is National (0+ / 0-)

    Board Certification!  I do not mean to demean exemplary teachers who have earned N.B.C., but the absolute WORST teacher in our school just earned National Board Certification.  

    After a decade of being on extended probation and receiving the lowest of evaluations, her extended probation status only ended because of three Principal changes in six years.  Probationary status meant she could have been fired at any time, but no administrator ever bothered to take that step.  Of course she had ALL the time in the world to prepare her application and study for national "exams"...she certainly does NOT spend time helping her students learn or prepare for the classes she teaches.  That three different administrators allowed this woman's professional negligence to negatively affect the education of students with learning disabilities is disgusting...and her new piece of paper earns her $2,000 more a year!  

    Robber Baron "ReTHUGisms": John D. Rockefeller -"The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets"; Jay Gould -"I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."

    by ranton on Sat Feb 09, 2013 at 07:34:51 PM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site