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Sat Jun 15, 2013, 11:11 PM

To Teachers on DU:

Last edited Fri Jun 21, 2013, 11:22 AM - Edit history (2)

To teachers on DU:

I and I'm sure many others here count several great teachers among the people in my life who helped me the most. I will always be grateful for all they did and all you have done and continue to do to help so many.

For some years, it's been clear to me that an attack on public education was underway and has been accelerating, but I've been unable to get more than a cursory response from my teacher friends. They seemed to be waiting for someone else to take up the fight. (I realize it may be partly because they're working too dam' hard; but who isn't.)

Maybe teachers have assumed we already know a lot about the situation, but many of us don't. For years, nearly all we've been hearing is the other side. At most, we might see an occasional teacher complain about the workload and lack of funding. That's a starting point, but falls far short of an effective counter to the concerted, unrelenting, all-channel p.r. campaign being conducted by the other side.

Remember, it's only a minority of us that have direct, current experience with public schools. A lot of us don't have kids; or our kids were in school long ago; or maybe the kids went or go to private schools; etc. Many of us know next to nothing about the challenges public schools face today. Unless you tell us about the conditions you're working under - everything from the nitty-gritty details of particular cases to the big picture -- we don't know about them.

Has the quality of public education really gone downhill since I was a kid, or is that a myth? Have kids gotten harder to teach? Are class sizes too big? Are populations more diverse? In inflation-adjusted dollars, are we spending less per child than we were 50 years ago? Now that so few households have a stay-at-home parent, do fewer parents have time to help their kids, let alone get involved with the PTA or pay attention to school board elections? What factors are actually different now from what they were back when public education was strong (at least, it was strong at my school when I was growing up)? What are the causes of those changes, if any?

How does the current system actually work? How are the administrators selected? Where is the union, what role has it played? How are union leaders selected?

What are the large and small, direct and indirect causes of the problems? We must be courageous in facing all the problems and all their causes, because we can't devise effective solutions until we understand those things.

What are the real solutions? We do need you to help us identify real solutions, because if you don't offer any, others will.

It seems like lately I'm finally starting to hear a little more of your side of the story, teachers -- thank you. (Madfloridian, you're the exception -- you've been working your behind off for a long time, trying to get DU'er's to pay attention to education issues.)

But we need to see and hear from a lot more of you -- loudly and often.

No one is better qualified to lead the way and educate the rest of us about all of these things than you. Parents should care, too, and many do; but you still know a lot more about education and what's really going on than they do.

And they, and others, maybe even me, will join you if you lead.

That's my take, anyway; please feel free to educate me if you disagree!

And thanks again for your invaluable work and love.

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Reply To Teachers on DU: (Original post)
snot Jun 2013 OP
MichiganVote Jun 2013 #1
proud2BlibKansan Jun 2013 #3
MichiganVote Jun 2013 #5
proud2BlibKansan Jun 2013 #8
proud2BlibKansan Jun 2013 #2
mbperrin Jun 2013 #4
femmocrat Jun 2013 #6
femmocrat Jun 2013 #7
proud2BlibKansan Jun 2013 #9
femmocrat Jun 2013 #10
Starry Messenger Jun 2013 #11
LWolf Jun 2013 #12

Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Jun 16, 2013, 12:04 AM

1. Ok, you want the truth-here is what I know

Has the quality of public education really gone downhill since I was a kid, or is that a myth?

Part reality and part myth. Its not a popular mainstream idea, but school funding is at the heart of much of this. Sorry folks but you really can't build a better mousetrap on a lick and a prayer. Money is necessary to run any program and education is no exception. So at this point, the Feds don't/won't help, the funding streams in the States often involve the middle man, often referred to as as the ISD-who takes the cream of the money crop first leaving local schools with less. And for all the morons out there who somehow believe that schools make $$ with special needs kids-shut the fuck up. This is a right wing talking point and it is not factually true. The "quality" of education for students suffer when schools cannot provide, decent professional development, music, art, PE or school counselors. If you belong in an area that manages to support its sports teams to market their district AND there are degenerative cuts to pretty much everything else--you are not dealing with a myth. You are dealing with a funding mess.

Have kids gotten harder to teach? For the self motivated kids-no. Yes to everyone else.

Are parents working too hard to help their kids, or to notice if they're failing, let alone get involved with the PTA or pay attention to school board elections? Granted some parents did not do so well in school. Granted then that working on schoolwork is difficult for parents who were/are limited in terms of time or effort. Parents working "too hard", not likely.


Are class sizes too big? Usually, but not in all locale.

Are populations more diverse? Depends on where you live. LA-yes. Atlanta-probably the same as decades past. Diversity is not the problem within school districts except when gangs run the school

In inflation-adjusted dollars, are we spending less per child than we were 50 years ago? Yes.

What factors are actually different now from when they were back when public education was strong (at least, it was strong at my school when I was growing up)? The tax base is piss poor in every state.

What are the causes of those changes, if any? The sense of civic duty in our society is gone, the Congress couldn't get a bird to fly past a frickin' window.

How does the current system actually work? Beats me.

How are the administrators selected? Usually by other administrators. Go figure.

Where is the union, what role has it played? How are union leaders selected? Most ed. unions have been gutted in the last 10 years.

What are the large and small, direct and indirect causes of the problems? Large-NO LEADERSHIP from the President, the Cabinet, the Congress, the locals and yes many parents too.

What are the real solutions? A coherent plan that focuses on the students. Not unions, not admin. and in some areas, not parents. And let's maybe consider that we are asking people out of college to start at 28k and get their heads blown off. Lets acknowledge reality, lets start there.

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Response to MichiganVote (Reply #1)

Sun Jun 16, 2013, 12:38 AM

3. About special ed funding - - -

When Congress initially mandated sped in 1974, they promised to fund 40% of the cost. And until just recently (I believe just last year), they funded 17%. Now it's up to 23% or 24%.

So yes, let's please stop the idiotic myth that states and school districts make money by labeling kids as disabled. That's complete bullshit.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #3)

Sun Jun 16, 2013, 07:39 AM

5. Thank you. That one really burns me up. It is a move to decrease

the very funding that is needed by districts to survive the demands of educating a special needs child. Having said that, however, Michigan provides services to age 26. I am not in favor of that age range. Its not necessary and it shouldn't be necessary. That reg alone costs millions and millions of dollars.

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Response to MichiganVote (Reply #5)

Sun Jun 16, 2013, 11:04 AM

8. Some kids need it though

A small minority, and perhaps some take advantage.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Jun 16, 2013, 12:27 AM

2. Thank you. I'll attempt to answer at least some of your questions.

Has the quality of public education really gone downhill since I was a kid, or is that a myth?

Yes and no. I think we're teaching much more and at a more rigorous level. However, we teachers don't have a lot of say in WHAT is taught and there is content we are NOT teaching that many of us believe we SHOULD be teaching. Cursive handwriting, for example. And once Common Core hits (in 2015) we'll no longer be teaching much classic literature.

Have kids gotten harder to teach?

Yes. We've struggled to keep up with technology, like video games, that holds our kids' attention better than traditional instructional methods. We also have many more children growing up in poverty and in difficult family circumstances that impact how well they are prepared for learning.

Are parents working too hard to help their kids, or to notice if they're failing, let alone get involved with the PTA or pay attention to school board elections?

Not where I teach. Lack of parental involvement is a major concern. I also believe school administrators have unrealistic expectations of parents. For example, in my district, our admins and board are seriously considering buying a laptop, tablet or similar device for every student and are encouraging teachers to develop homework assignments using these devices, even though a large percentage of our families don't have internet access. This just widens that gap between school and home.

Are class sizes too big?

YES! And they just keep getting bigger. As long as I've taught, I've said give me 15 kids and I'll work miracles.

Are populations more diverse?

Yes. But I don't see this as a bad thing.

In inflation-adjusted dollars, are we spending less per child than we were 50 years ago?

I'm not sure but I don't believe we've ever spent enough per child.

What factors are actually different now from when they were back when public education was strong (at least, it was strong at my school when I was growing up)? What are the causes of those changes, if any?

More students are living in poverty. More are homeless. More don't speak English at home. More children come from single parent homes. (I have tremendous respect for single parents but you can't deny that two adults can do more than one.) More families are under stress or 'dysfunctional'.

How does the current system actually work? How are the administrators selected?

Administrators are hired by district level administrators and then formally approved by school boards. It's pretty much the same way teachers are hired.

Where is the union, what role has it played? How are union leaders selected?

This varies, as in many states, the power of unions has been diminished by state legislatures. In some states, unions are no longer allowed to negotiate contracts for teachers. Union leaders are elected by union members.

What are the large and small, direct and indirect causes of the problems?

Large - We need to define the problems correctly. I don't believe we've ever done that. We also need to stop looking at test scores as the source/definition/solution for our problems. Standardized tests are being over used and misused to diagnose and correct problems in education. These tests were never designed to track individual students' progress. We've developed an obsession with data and test scores that distracts us from real solutions to real problems.

Small - Teachers need to be allowed the autonomy to let children grow and learn at their own pace. Kids aren't widgets and the assembly line approach won't ever work in education. We know how to nurture children. Let us do that and I think we'll see happier classrooms with more productive results.

What are the real solutions?

Federal and state legislative bodies need to chill. NCLB has been a disaster. So has most legislation at the state level since 2001. I believe Common Core will also be a disaster. Legislators need to adopt BROAD policies that guide our work in education (length of the school year and day, policies that guarantee equal access to our children and provide a safe environment for students and teachers) and our legislative bodies need to STOP micro managing our schools.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Jun 16, 2013, 02:31 AM

4. I teach high school in Texas. Here are the answers for me.

Has the quality of public education really gone downhill since I was a kid, or is that a myth?

Strictly a myth. When I graduated in 1971 from the same school where I teach now, you needed 17 credits to graduate. There were no calculus classes, no second year chemistry or biology, no physics, no mandatory senior English, even. Now, 26 credits, which must include physics as one science plus three other sciences, 4 years of English, 4 years of math (and calculus is offered), and 4 years of social studies, including economics and government, which were a combined course back when, along the lines of be a good citizen and vote. So many more and much more rigorous classes are being taught and are mandatory for all students to take.



Have kids gotten harder to teach?

My kids, the "regular" kids, are harder to teach because they have poor socialization. Absent parents or working parents cannot sit down to supper and model behaviors for their kids, who get their social norms from their friends, TV, video games, and movies. Very difficult to transfer eating at McDonald's accompanied by screaming kids on the playground into attentive conversation at a fine restaurant or in the classroom. So, socialization, including eye contact, shaking hands, different speech registers and more, are about 1/4 of the curriculum now, and it pays large rewards to do that later in the courses.


Are parents working too hard to help their kids, or to notice if they're failing, let alone get involved with the PTA or pay attention to school board elections?

50% of the adults in my county over the age of 25 do not have a high school diploma. They cannot assist in senior English homework, calculus, physics, economics, Biology II, or most other senior courses. Add to the lack of formal credential the following: 30% of my students live in households where the language spoken is other than English; 87% of our students qualify for free or reduced lunch; half of the seniors work 40 hours a week in addition to attending school so that they can have nicer clothes, something to drive, a personal phone, and other things that adults should, but simply cannot, provide. There is no and never has been a PTA at our high school, and in the last school board elections a few weeks ago, 2200 people voted out of 44,000 registered voters in this county, and those 2200 votes were split among 4 positions. It literally takes more votes to become homecoming queen than to be elected to the school board here.


Are class sizes too big?

Not in the AP and IB program, where we have 6 or 7 students in a section. However, in the regular and inclusion side where I teach, 150 students is the GOAL of the administration for each teacher, but I teach more like 180 each semester (economics and government are one semester courses). There is an internal resegregation of schools that is not race-based, but income-based. Doctors kids, lawyers' kids, university professors' kids attend the small intimate classes of AP and IB, while everyone else functions in a larger enviroment.


Are populations more diverse?

Yes, and it's a good thing. My school was an all-white school in 1971, and we now benefit from many students of Mexican descent, students from Asian backgrounds, Pacific Islanders, black students, totaled together are now about 52% of the school, which is a nearly perfect mirror of the community.


In inflation-adjusted dollars, are we spending less per child than we were 50 years ago?

Never mind 50 years ago. LAST year, spending dropped nearly 15% per student with the cuts from the state of Texas. That's in current dollars. This year, about half of the total cut was restored, but with student population increases, it will actually be another 12% cut. So in just two years, we have cut per student spending by 25%.


What factors are actually different now from when they were back when public education was strong (at least, it was strong at my school when I was growing up)? What are the causes of those changes, if any?

When I was growing up, I didn't know anybody who had a mom work outside the home, nor did I know any divorced parents. 1972 was the peak oil production in the history of the US, and we live in the largest domestic oilfield, so wages were good, and I didn't know any kid who had a job of any kind during the school year. Some worked a bit in the summer for the experience, but that was it.
Now, nearly none of my students have a stay at home parent, big bunch are single parent households, and as I mentioned before, nearly half my students work full time.


How does the current system actually work? How are the administrators selected? Where is the union, what role has it played? How are union leaders selected?

The superintendent is selected by the school board, He or she selects all the other administrators based on recommendations from other administrators. Public employees do not have the right to strike nor to negotiate contracts in Texas, so the teacher associations and the one union (AFT) exist really to provide professional liability insurance for legal expenses.



What are the large and small, direct and indirect causes of the problems? We must be courageous in facing all the problems and all their causes, because we can't devise effective solutions until we understand those things.

The big thing is the impoverishment of the US population over the last 40 years - it's led to the financial pressures that wreck marriages, increase dependence on minimum wage jobs for every member of the household since waiting for more training means no electricity this month. This poverty and lack of availability for family leads to peer-led interactions without intermediation, so we have the highest unwed mother rate in Texas, the second highest rate of STDs for school kids, heavy drug use, not just of marijuana or inhalants, but readily available and cheap heroin, cocaine, and other opiates.

What are the real solutions? We do need you to help us identify real solutions, because if you don't offer any, others will.


Money. Money for families to afford family time. Money for students to actually attend class and devote time to school activities and school work. Money for resources to increase the number of teachers, bringing down class sizes. Money for students to have Internet connections or supplies for school projects - many of my students are precluded from the robotics program because the students themselves have to provide more than a thousand dollars worth of supplies each for the class - the district does nothing, because they don't have the money. And they don't.


Hope this helps.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Jun 16, 2013, 10:15 AM

6. My colleagues have given you very good, insightful answers.

Here are a couple more answers from someone with many years of experience and on the verge of retirement. This will be my final year of teaching.

Has the quality of public education really gone downhill since I was a kid, or is that a myth? No! We teach more content and more difficult content at a much earlier age now. Many kindergarteners can read --- I don't remember reading until first grade. Same with math. Algebra, geometry, etc. have all been incorporated into elementary math and have been moved up a year or two in middle school.

Have kids gotten harder to teach? Yes, there are far more behavioral problems that interfere with teaching the rest of the class. I never heard of ADD, ADHD, ODD, and myriad other disabilities until maybe the 1980s. Every other kid has an IEP or a behavior contract, or something similar. I wonder what happened to everyday "normal" kids.

Are parents working too hard to help their kids, or to notice if they're failing, let alone get involved with the PTA or pay attention to school board elections? No, not enough. The outstanding students have very involved parents. The problem kids have absentee or disinterested parents. It is impossible to get any cooperation (such as returning a phone call) from some of them. I think some of them just give up.

Are class sizes too big? YES.

Are populations more diverse? Sure, but so is the country overall.

In inflation-adjusted dollars, are we spending less per child than we were 50 years ago? No idea.

What factors are actually different now from when they were back when public education was strong (at least, it was strong at my school when I was growing up)? What are the causes of those changes, if any? There is an organized assault on teachers and public education by the republicans and their ilk.

Where is the union, what role has it played? How are union leaders selected? Our union is very involved and well-organized (in PA). There is virtually no union representation in most states though, particularly in red states. We elect our officers and we still have payroll deduction for dues. Political donations are VOLUNTARY, contrary to RW talking points.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Jun 16, 2013, 10:24 AM

7. Proud2BlibKansan has been an outstanding contributor on education issues, as well.

I have learned so much from her posts in the Education Group. Thank you, P2BLK!

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Response to femmocrat (Reply #7)

Sun Jun 16, 2013, 11:06 AM

9. Wow. How nice. Thank you!

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #9)

Sun Jun 16, 2013, 11:07 AM

10. You are very welcome!

Thanks for your contributions to DU!

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Response to snot (Original post)

Sun Jun 16, 2013, 07:01 PM

11. Lots of good replies here.

I can only second all of the responses on the thread. I just wanted to remind anyone who wants to stay au courant can subscribe to this group too. I usually post education related threads in here so subscribers don't miss content they might be interested in. Also fighting to get eyeballs along with whatever is GDs issue of the day can be challenging. Remember to check out journals from people who post in here, good stuff there too.

Good OP, thanks snot.

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Response to snot (Original post)

Mon Jun 17, 2013, 02:06 PM

12. My 2 cents,

although there are already some great responses:

Has the quality of public education really gone downhill since I was a kid, or is that a myth?

Yes. The quality of public education has gone downhill, at least since I was a kid. I'm a product of public education in California, pre-proposition 13. That said, there are teachers working just as hard, teaching what we are told to teach. It's the content that has gone downhill, not the teaching.

Have kids gotten harder to teach?

From my perspective, yes. We have generations of kids who spend too much time as passive consumers of electronic stimulation at earlier and earlier ages, when we know that, from the standpoint of brain development, kids need to be, not in front of screens, but moving and doing and directly interacting with their world in the early years from birth - kindergarten; that, and direct interaction with other people, direct conversations, singing, reading, etc., are what build the neural connections necessary for academic learning, and are what build language development.

That, and the widening economic gaps which mean that more kids are growing up in poverty, make this generation harder to teach.

Are parents working too hard to help their kids, or to notice if they're failing, let alone get involved with the PTA or pay attention to school board elections?

Some are. Parent involvement has always been a function of socio-economic gaps; the more prosperous, the more involvement as a whole. Since we have more and more families not prospering, that stands to reason. In cases of generational poverty and/or illiteracy, parents never were all that involved. Generally, though, regardless of income or education levels, many of them could be counted on to support teachers' efforts. In the current generation of teacher as scapegoat, they are more likely to blame schools and teachers for problems rather than support us. Don't mistake me; I still have plenty of parents that are supportive, that work as a team with their kids and teachers. There are more and more every year, though, that target teachers whenever something goes wrong.


Are class sizes too big?

Yes. We've known since before I left college to teach that, according to research, the optimal class size for learning was 15. I've taught class sizes ranging from 20 (during CA's class size reduction experiment) to 42. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE.

Are populations more diverse?

In many places. Diverse socio-economic strata, diverse languages, cultures, ethnicity.

In inflation-adjusted dollars, are we spending less per child than we were 50 years ago?

Not if you get your information from right-wing privatizers, we're not. I can't really answer this question with any confidence. What I can say is that we spend whatever it is we are spending differently. We have cut in many areas, and now spend a literal fortune on tests, testing, test scoring, and outside consultants to manage our data. We spend a fortune on programs promising to prepare students for those tests. We spend and spend and spend on teaching to the test, on everything related to "data." That money has to come from somewhere.

Private enterprise has wanted to get their grubby corporate mitts on all that lovely public money expended on education for decades. Their successes are growing at an alarming rate.

What factors are actually different now from when they were back when public education was strong (at least, it was strong at my school when I was growing up)?

We provide a less-well-rounded education; if it is not tested, it's not taught, or the time and focus to teach it effectively is not there. We spend our time in staff meetings, in team meetings, in class with students, in meetings with parents, talking about test scores.

We go on fewer field trips, students are provided with less in the way of fine and performing arts, and, tragically, LESS CRITICAL THINKING. Students are more passive, less active, in the process of learning because that is the way their classes have been structured; it's all about the test.

There is less enjoyment; learning, reading, writing, thinking because it's fun, or interesting, is a foreign concept to many of today's students. It's all about taking your medicine so you can pass your academic physicals.

What are the causes of those changes, if any?

Ronald Reagan. A Nation At Risk. Corporate desire to profit from the tax dollars spent on education. The neoliberal economic movement that requires large pools of cheap labor and cannon fodder infests the public education system from the top down. The standards and accountability movement. They act like we never had "standards" or taught anyone anything before they whipped out their endless list of isolated "standards," long enough to, according to Marzano, require that students attend grade 22 to be adequately taught all the standards on the books before graduating. The attached high-stakes testing. The authoritarian regime that has systematically demonized teachers an education, eroding public confidence.

How does the current system actually work?

Teachers get a Master's degree, plus pass some standardized tests to get a teaching license; requirements are different in every state. They continue taking classes so that they can renew that license every few years. They are responsible, once hired, for regular assessments, for tracking each students' assessment data and making sure that lessons target the weaknesses revealed. They are evaluated on things like: whether or not their standards and objectives are posted and students know them; whether or not all students are engaged; how they manage all that assessment data; how their students do on standardized tests.

I think the system is more stressful for students than it used to be. I know teachers are more stressed, and it's hard to create a stress-free environment working under that kind of stress. High-stakes = high stress. These days, for older students, those tests are high-stakes for them, as well. In my state, they are part of high school grad requirements for everyone, including special ed.

How are the administrators selected?

That hasn't really changed, at least, not in the districts I've worked in. Of course, I've only worked in the system 30, not 50, years, lol. The Superintendent is selected by the school board. The Supe selects assistant admins at the district level, and they select and assign admins at the site level.

Where is the union, what role has it played?

At the national level, the union has been pandering to neoliberal Democrats that are working against our best interests. For example, my union, the NEA's, endorsement of Barack Obama. I'm sure it's because they don't want to be left out of the conversation. That strategy hasn't worked, obviously. Example: the appointment of non-educator corporate stooge Arne Duncan as Sec of Ed.

Some local unions have been active, on-fire, and effective. Look at Chigaco and Wisconsin for examples. Others are like Obama himself, steadily "compromising" away our value as educators.

How are union leaders selected?

Elected by members. To be honest, the only candidates I ever know anything about are the locals; in state and national elections, I usually can't find enough information to make a sound choice.

An interesting, and I don't mean that in a positive way, development locally is in doing away with regular union officers; apparently, next year we will be governed by committee.

What are the large and small, direct and indirect causes of the problems?

1. Funding
2. Anti-public school, anti-teacher propanda
3. Privatization and corporatization efforts

What are the real solutions?

First of all, the solutions need to be in the hands of educators, not political or corporate powers that be.

We've got plenty of solutions, but people have to listen, and have to be willing to implement them. I can offer up a page full, and they will represent only a tiny fraction of what my colleagues can do should you turn us loose to implement our ideas.

Here are just a few, in no particular order:

1.Stop standardizing everything. We recognize that students are people, that people are not standardized, and that not every strategy, system, or program is right for every person. Allow us to truly differentiate at all levels. That means that every school in a district doesn't have to use the same materials and lessons and pacing schedule.

2. Stop privatizing. We don't need outside for-profit people to run our schools. We don't need charters. We can have a variety of different schools, with different philosophies, schedules, methodologies, etc.. within every district. The union needs to be on board with that.

3. Get rid of high-stakes testing in its entirety. Assessments to inform instruction? Yes. We don't need as many, we don't need them to be the main focus, and we especially don't need the high-stakes.

I notice that my first 3 propositions are all about what NOT to do. I'll focus from here on out on what TO do, with the understanding that, without halting harmful policies, the rest won't be effective.

4. Reduce the size. Smaller districts, smaller schools, smaller class sizes...stronger, more connected community where it is much harder for students to "slip through cracks," and much easier to form positive working relationships with parents. More adult staff on campus, as well as a better student-teacher ratio in the classroom. K-8s instead of institutional-sized middle schools at the hardest age people experience. Enough Counselors, Nurses, PE teachers, Art teachers, Music teachers, playground and bathroom supervisors, and people, time and places for extra help for anyone who needs it.

5. Fully funded special ed, plus enough staff, resources, and time to help anyone else who needs it, as already mentioned.

6. Real kitchens, cooks, and fresh, healthy food served instead of junk food.

7. Before and after school programs and services for those who want or need them: health, tutoring, enrichment, parent ed, etc.. In addition, some organization like the Family Access Network for every school site to help families with whatever they need.

8. A well-stocked library and certified school librarian in every school.

9. Local empowerment: give school sites more autonomy, within safety and other regulations to protect student and teacher rights. Empowering people at the site level creates a strong, vibrant team whose motivation to succeed exceeds those struggling under authoritarian rule.

10. Treat teachers like professionals; fully fund all services rather than depending on teachers to put in hours beyond a contractual day, paid and unpaid, that lead to exhaustion and burn-out.

11. Single-track, year-round school: having taught several year-round calendars, I can attest to the fact that they increase student achievement and reduce burnout with shorter, more frequent breaks.

12. Looping: students and teachers spending more than one year together builds a stronger working relationship, and the second year always sees more growth.

I could go on and on, with the large and the small; you've got both in the above list.

The resources to create a positive, supportive environment that can offer a world-class education to every student that walks through the doors, and enough autonomy to decide how to do just that, with enough regulation to protect the rights of all.

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