Nancy Bailey: Saving Public Schools for ALL Our Children in the New Year
Nancy Bailey offers some thoughts for a New Year’s Education Resolution. Reposted with permission.
As we approach 2023, let’s make this the year to unite for the common good to reestablish and promote public education for all our children.
A public school system relies on a country that values education for all its children no matter family religious beliefs, the color of one’s skin, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. Americans collectively fund public education because those schools belong to us. They reflect the never-ending societal changes that make us better people.
In your community, look to see how you can serve the students in your public school. Get to know your local schools and their difficulties by attending school boards. Seek to support not break down the school.
- Volunteer to help a teacher
- Tutor a child
- Attend a school function like a school play or sports event
- Ask what skills you might have that could be useful for the school or children
- Be a part of career day and explain your work
- See if you can support sports, the band, or other extracurricular activities
- Seek to shore up your local school by helping fund a school initiative if possible
- Attend school board meetings seeking to show support
- Brainstorm ways you and others can get behind your public schools
We care about everybody’s child through public education. We know that the annoying teen next door may grow up to discover a cure for diseases, or they could be the plumber who fixes our pipes during a winter freeze. As a nation, we believe that all our children matter, not just for what they will someday do for us, but because they are our children!
There are many reasons for Americans from both political parties to hold hands regarding their public schools because we all want our children to get the best education possible.
Here are some suggestions, and issues for parents and teachers to unite to save public education in 2023 and beyond.
The arts are critical to providing children with a well-rounded education. Children should get the opportunity to explore music, drawing, painting, dance, etc. Since NCLB, many poor schools have ended their art programs.
Reinstall the arts in every public school with qualified art teachers.
Assessing students, including the youngest learners, is out of control, unnecessary, and costly. Some testing is inevitable and necessary, but high-stakes standardized tests are politically motivated and not in the best interests of the students.
Fewer tests and more teacher assessment that help teachers and parents better understand student progress are what’s needed. Push for reduced testing in public schools.
Students should be guided towards careers that they’re interested in and where they will personally thrive, especially in high school, with the realization that some students might not know what they want to do as a career until they are out of high school.
Insist that high school students get some instruction the variety of careers that exist and counseling to learn about their interests.
From school safety to including students with disabilities, manageable class sizes make schooling more personal and allow teachers to instruct students fully. MoneyPPL recently listed their idea of the 30 best schools, and most had small class sizes even as low as an 11 to 1 student ratio.
It’s past time to see how to lower class sizes in public schools.
Schools need more well-prepared, degreed counselors, who assist students with personal problems and provide mental health referrals to psychological counseling in the community when necessary.
Career guidance counselors for high school students are also critical. Counselors should be specially prepared to work with children at their age level, elementary, middle and high school.
Curriculum should be age appropriate, focused on a variety of subjects. Children need exposure to geography, history, science, civics, health, and the arts along with language arts and math. Home economics focusing on life skills is a worthy goal.
Child development has always been important for understanding what to expect from children in different grades. But for years, expectations for children have been pushed down to earlier levels. It’s time to look closer at expectations.
Many old school buildings still dot the landscape, of which Americans should be ashamed. Students should be guaranteed a public school building that is conducive to learning and safety.
Some newer built buildings seem to be designed to eventually be cyber schools even though those schools have problems (See Rewarding Failure: An Education Week Investigation of the Cyber Charter Industry).
. Children need great school buildings that bring students and teachers together.
Parents deserve a seat at the table when it comes to public schools working with teachers, not as adversaries.
When school districts permit partners to change the school to what they want, the school is no longer a public school. Any partner who wants to support a public school should donate to the existing school programs and not with a Social Impact Bond where they profit on the school.
Children learn to read at different ages, but focusing only on skill acquisition and insisting kindergartners be reading by first grade is concerning. This became a reality during NCLB and Reading First, even though it didn’t turn out well. Reading has also become much about profit making.
Children deserve exposure to beautiful picture books and reading material they enjoy, not only drilling sounds.
The country needs a new National Reading Panel, that includes teachers, parents, and reading researchers.
Every school should have a school library with a qualified librarian and updated books and reading materials of interest to students.
The support staff of a school, janitors, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, librarians, school psychologists, paraprofessional, counselors, and office staff must be welcoming and supportive. Their presence matters greatly to the success of a school.
Every student should be known in a school, getting an evaluation to determine their strengths and weaknesses before school begins.
If they are to learn and become capable adults, students need qualified professionals with college degrees in the subject they teach and an understanding of teaching.
Technology is critical to most careers, and schools must have good tech programs and help students to have access to learning how it can be applied. But there’s no proof that technology should replace teachers.
Many privacy concerns should also be addressed in 2023. Parents should ask who gets their students’ data and how it’s being used.
These are a few ideas that are important for making public schools great and saving them in 2023. Feel free to share your thoughts about saving public schools.
Happy New Year!