Share Your Advice

What would you like to see the next President–Obama or McCain–do about public education? Suppose he, or somone close to him, asked you for your advice? What would you say?

What does the next President need to do about major education issues?  How can he make lasting change to federal education policy?

Share your advice for the next President.


15 Responses to Share Your Advice

  1. Nancy Kaplan says:

    You requested suggestions:  attitude toward spending big money on education needs to change.  this is an investment in our country’s future.  Quality facilities well maintained and well staffed — an inviting environment.  Big windows, light, openness —- no long dark corridors or closed in classrooms.   Small classes — max. 20.   Volunteer helpers in all classes—parents must be in the room— like a co-op and business must forgive the time away just as they would for jury duty or national guard duty.

  2. Michael Osterbuhr says:

    If teachers are so crucial to the learning process, then why are home-schooled and students from one-room schools (Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana) so successful? In quiet, supportive environments children want to learn everything.

    In crowded, noisy, distracting environments children seek safety or join in the
    commotion. Obviously our schools need to provide better student to teacher

    Can anyone teach? Probably not, but some individuals teach better than others. In a classroom of 20, 25, or 30 students, there are good students,
    that is, good learners who succeed regardless of who is in front of the class.

    That we have home schooled students who excel and individuals who complete the GED seems evidence that the learner is possibly more important than the teacher.

    Does one environment work best for every learner? What do you think? and yet, we provide factory-type, assembly-line schools that try to move along all students at the same pace with the same textbooks and the same techniques. “You are nine years old? Well it’s time for you to be in fourth grade!” What?

    Time to re-think teaching? Maybe it is time to rethink how learners are guided through the best way for them (unique individuals) to learn? Maybe it is time to do away with the assembly-line that tries to make all learners “one size,” because we all know that one size does not fit all.

  3. Sally Butzin says:

    I would like the next president to return to the intent of accountability and standards. That is to set standards and hold schools accountable for meeting them, and then get out of the way. As long as they are meeting the standards, they should have freedom to be innovative and creative.

    Our experience with NCLB and Reading First has been a nightmare of micromanaging and constricting mandates that have forced creative teachers to return to textbook teaching. For example, the Feds came up with a regulation for 90 minutes of uninterrupted reading instruction for Reading First schools. The state of Florida then mandated this for all elementary schools. This resulted in numerous schools having to drop our highly successful Project CHILD program because they could not schedule uninterrupted blocks for the CHILD rotations. (The CHILD model is a cross-grade team approach where teachers specialize in the core subjects and work with their students for three years – see our website for more Despite superior results for the CHILD classes, the scheduling requirements came first. This doesn’t make sense.

  4. First is the way you present the issues and problems.  Lay off the data hysteria!  The propaganda of bad number stories simply clouds perception, and you don’t see what the problems are.  Get your data ONLY from the National Center for Education Statistics and not from unofficial purveyors who sell numbers off pushcarts on North Capitol St. just to leverage influence and gain business.  The Bush Administration bought those numbers and we wound up with that silly Spellings Commission report.

    Second: International statistical comparisons, in particular, are incredibly faulty, and even OECD knows that: other countries define higher ed participation and degrees differently than we do, and when population ratios are used people often forget that the U.S. is the only major country in OECD with an increasing population (and an increasing population of youth–principally due to the expansion of the Latino community).  Stay away from assertions like “the US used to be #2; now we are #9.”  There are no borders any more in the world of knowledge and learning: if other countries are learning more than they used to, we all benefit.
    BUT it’s about time this country learned something from what other countries are doing in reforming their higher education systems.  The principal case lies in the joint effort of 46 European countries under the Bologna Process, running since 1999.  You want to see true accountability?  They know how to do it!

    Third: Speaking of accountability in higher education: it does NOT consist simply of posting numbers of degrees granted or data on the proportion of your students who like this or that aspect of your school, or test scores from a random sample of 100 student volunteers.  That stuff has no reference points, no standards, i.e. you don’t know what those degrees mean.  It’s documentation, not accountability.  Call for agreements and definitions of what degrees truly signify.  Want to know how to do that?  Look at the Bologna Process!

    Fourth: We have piles of access for traditional-age students: 70 percent of high school graduates go on to postsecondary education, and 80 percent go by their mid-20s.  You can’t push that much higher.  What we need is a higher proportion of degree completers, and to do that, try the following:

    A) Special support programs to colleges and community colleges who track down adult students who left their institutions without degrees but who had accumulated at least half the credits necessary for a degree, and bring them back to school.  These students will need special incentives such as
    more flexible class schedules, distance learning, dedicated child-care, and fee waivers. 

    B) Increased outreach and support for military personnel who start (or continue) their higher education through DODs Voluntary Education Program while on active duty, and better advisement and guidance on connecting that experience to higher education when they become veterans.  This is also
    an access issue for low-income and minority students, both groups of which are over-represented
    in the military.  In other words, strengthen the bonds and processes between two major institutions
    in our society which are in the knowledge distribution business.  There is a huge number of actual and potential students here.

    Fifth: An administration cannot micro-manage student choices of fields of study.  You can encourage
    science, technology, and quantitative fields all you want, but you run the risk of devaluing the students who want to study anthropology, graphic arts, journalism, history, economics, music, accounting, etc.—all of which can provide a much-needed richness of knowledge and skills to economic and community life.  It’s about time that the rhetoric of Administrations recognized the economic, social, and cultural values of individuals who make these choices and encouraged them to finish their credentials.  The next Administration can do this without sacrificing momentum in scientific and technical fields.

    Sixth, and most controversial: we have a problem with academic preparedness of entering college and community college students that we now try to “solve” with remedial programs.  Let’s try something else learned from other countries: a transitional post-high school year program, set outside both school systems and institutions of higher education, that would result in an automatic national college entry credential.  In such a program, the final examinations in core subjects—English, U.S. history, post-Algebra 2 math (pre-calc, finite math, or statistics), and laboratory science—would be the same as the final examinations given at the end of the first term in the same subjects by the flagship state university in every state.  Now that is “alignment”! 

  5. Liz Wisniewski says:

    I would tell the president that in my opinion, the best way to begin improving education in this country would start with improving teacher quality. Then, I would suggest that his first task in addressing the issue would be to consider some obvious questions related to the teaching profession – questions that would hopefully lead to the development of a set of goals to improve the profession.

    – Who is entering the teaching profession and why?
    – Is there a reason why most teachers are female? How does the answer to this question impact the profession?
    – Why are their teacher unions? Is unionization a good structure for the profession?
    – How difficult is it to get into a college teaching program? Why?
    – How has the quality of students entering college teaching programs changed in the last 30 years? Why?
    – What are the other career options of those students who enter teaching? Do they reflect the intellectual rigor we want from teachers?
    – What is the turnover rate of new teachers? What influences this rate?

    These are fundamental questions that need to be considered to truly understand the state of teaching in America. To improve the teaching situation in the country the administration must consider why the profession is structured the way it is, and deal with some difficult, deeply ingrained beliefs about teaching.

    (Note: A good sign is that a key adviser for the democratic candidate – Linda Darling Hammond – has written extensively on these issues.)

  6. 1) Promote the California Peace Movement that states all schools, libraries and training/vocational centers are Peace zones/truce zones. The level of California gang intimidation and urban crime presents a clear and real danger to students, staff and parents or community members
    Mentors and community partnerships working with schools are critical to close the achievement gaps. Communities must work in collaboration with city officials to reclaim our neighborhoods and schools in California. Not a RED State (Northern Gangs) Not a BLUE State ( Southern Gangs) but a neutral Purple Truce Zone for California Peace Through Literacy and Community Service.

    2) Early education..First Five or Preschool for under served communities is necessary

    3) Pass state and even federal legislation that recognizes teachers as Highly Qualified state licensed teachers. As such we should not forfeit any years of experience ( pay scale-step or column when transferring to another school district.) Teachers who find it necessary to move for family obligations, job opportunities and housing opportunities are constantly losing pay (tenure and pay scale demotions as they enter into new districts.) Often veteran Highly Qualified teachers have more experience and can enhance the district or Title I School with their previous training and expertise and yet we are financially demoted for making a CHANGE of district. . This type of financial demotion does not happen to other state employees such as Policemen , Firemen, City Officials who relocate for job promotion or opportunitiy.
    This is the CHANGE I most desire for California teachers. We are traveling 2 hours commutes in Silicon Valley
    because teachers can not afford to live where we teach. Married teachers who move /change school districts for spouse job relocation are demoted financially in California. Is this the case nation wide ? Teresa

  7. Darya says:

    I think that we need to get rid of the no child left behind act. It is a hinderance to teachers who really want to teach. They get bogged down in testing and making sure that they are meeting the test standards that they don’t have time to be quality teachers. Teachers should not be teaching to a test. This is not the most effective way to get through to students and leaves a lot of students behind.
    Also, teachers’ salaries need to be increased. With the amount of time and work that goes into being a teacher, if we do not compensate teachers properly, we will not get qualified teachers into our schools. It’s pretty simple. We will get out of our schools what we put in.

  8. Gary Galluzzo says:

    My advice to the next president is that it is time to take teacher learning and school improvement seriously. It is time to move beyond separating the teacher from the school and for a two-pronged approach that seeks to improve teaching quality through meaningful, school-focused professional development that also focuses on continuous school improvement. All places on the political spectrum agree on one point: there is nothing more important to the education of students than the quality of the teacher and her/his teaching. That is, the more teachers know about the subjects they teach, how students learn those subjects, and how they organize instruction so that all children will profit from instruction are what really matters. But that is where we stop as a nation and as local communities: we invest in the individual teacher at the expense of the school in which the teacher teaches. Schools are communities, and they work better when people in them feel they are part of a common mission, and that is something that has to be nurtured and developed over time.

    As you take office, it would be in the nation’s interest to pursue legislative and executive actions that would make sure every child has access to teachers who are knowledgeable in the content, highly-skilled in teaching that content so that children learn in rich and meaningful ways, and who are disposed never to give up on a student. What is learned in a teacher education program provides only a solid foundation for growth. But we could do more. Teachers need to be learners and education reformers, and school districts should be encouraged to devote significant resources to develop their own teachers to achieve their school’s goals. Right now, most teacher professional development is left to each teacher to purchase individually. Some do and some don’t, and even if they do the quality, and therefore the value, varies widely and is focused on developing the teacher and not the school. Teacher development should encourage teachers to become better at the art and science of teaching, but even more importantly, to become the agents of change who improve the quality of the school for the children in their collective charge.

    A fan from the Options in Education days.

    Gary Galluzzo
    George Mason University

  9. Jeff Camp says:

    There is far too little meaningful R&D into what works in American public education. The federal government should create targeted, competitive grants on a matching fund basis to spur important innovation in districts and schools. The goal of these grants should be to foster and support innovation in a way that helps all schools learn from the efforts of those selected to lead the way.

    To be effective, these grants must be large enough to support meaningful programs and stable enough to ensure multi-year implementations.

  10. Doug Roberts says:

    1. Stimulate Equitable Teacher Compensation: Implement aggressive incentive programs for states or districts to implement something like DC Chancellor Rhee’s compensation program, offering teachers the option to lose tenure, be evaluated based on achievement growth data, and be given compensation on par with their colleagues in the private sector, OR continue along with the status quo compensation and evaluation plan. Give unions and teachers the option to earn more $$, and help seed this idea to help recruit the next generation of teachers away from other industries with competitive compensation.

    2. Create incentives for districts to use open-source digital content instead of expensive and heavy 20th century textbooks, saving districts thousands of dollars and bringing our schools into the 21st century.

    3. Consider alternatives to multiple-choice assessments that allow us to measure achievement and hold schools and teachers accountable in more “authentic” ways. Invest R&D into valid, un-biased, and fair assessments using portfolios and other authentic work that teachers and students can embrace and support. Ask unions to participate in this R&D.

    4. Encourage the use of Web 2.0 tools to design teacher professional development experiences that leverage modern technology and teacher work-hours.

    5. Consider creating a set of national standards for what students should know and be able to do, and national criteria for teacher certification instead of the state-by-state system that currently exists. Create a committee of Chief State School Officers to develop these national standards to ensure that each state has input in the process. The current system is good for assessment companies but causes wasted time and money for educators, families, and CMO’s doing work in more than one state.

    6. Create incentives for states to increase the numbers of charters granted to qualified schools.

    7. Explore ways to overhaul the property-tax-based school funding system to find more equitable ways to fund schools so all children have access to a high-quality education.

    8. Ensure that our schools observe the Constitution’s provision of a separation of Church and State, providing that schools do not engage in the teaching of any specific religious doctrine, such as so-called “Intelligent Design” and “Abstinence Only.” Religious teachings such as these may, of course, be discussed as options and their role in our society analyzed in a social science context, but have no place in a biology or health classroom.

  11. Celeste Kolodin says:

    Mine is pretty short. I’d like administrators, educators, and politicians to remember that learning is a creative process, and treat it as such. That doesn’t mean that children shouldn’t know the multiplication tables, or how to read, add, etc, but that learning these, when done with joy, and not just by rote, awakens a lifetime love of learning and fascination with learning as a response to curiosity, not a sickening dread of endless days of drudgery. Also, school buildings that look like prisons don’t help.

  12. My first recommendation for the next President of the United States is to change what constitutes a black person in the Constitution. There needs to be an amendment for those of mixed race. I recently learned that what constitutes being black varies from state to state and was even told that if a child’s father is black, then the child is black.

    Under No Child Left Behind, data is disaggregated in several ways: gender, ethnicity, poverty, age, attendance, grade level; however, mixed heritage students are miscalculated skewing the data in one way or the other. I have seen some school administrators ask parents if the school can classify a mixed heritage student as one race, essentially manipulating the data to make sure the student makes adequate yearly progress (AYP).

    Ensure that high standards apply to all students via a National Curriculum and National Standards. Leaving this up to the states has contributed to the steady downfall of education in the United States. Go back to the constructivist approach to teaching. I would also encourage the next President of the United States to strengthen teacher preparatory programs to lessen the number of minorities that are being incarcerated although most are able to receive academic instruction while they are “serving time.” This is a great intervention tool to capture students that were previously not taught in the “traditional school setting”, but also can act as a detriment stigmatizing this population as they overrepresented in jails and prisons.

    Learning must be relevant, engaging, and meaningful from Pre-K to 12, so if the next President of the United States could provide some type of universal monitoring and enforcement for this endeavor, both teachers and students would benefit tremendously. From my experience as an educator, the status quo will remain with widening learning gaps between minorities and the majority without universal monitoring and enforcement. Poverty is not always the issue as I have taught students that live in poverty that are quite bright and perform in the gifted and advanced levels. It is society that perpetuates this prevarication.

    I have had the pleasure of teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages but recently discovered that not all of my students have documented status. Many have walked from Central America to the United States. Illegal immigration is a grave problem in the U.S. that not only affects education but the economy as well. All illegal immigrants need to be legal taxpaying citizens of the United States or they need to be deported, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter whether they are African, Hispanic, Asian, or European illegal is illegal.

    All schools should have a Physical Education teacher, Music teacher, Art teacher, Librarian, and Media Specialist in addition to content area teachers to provide the enrichment that is needed for all students. There is great inequity in staffing,class size, and planning in schools throughout the country.

    Lastly, making schools the pillar of the community, forging school-family-community partnerships is critical. Teachers cannot do it alone. We need more parental involvement and community support.

  13. Click on the link for my government contracting website.

  14. Carmen Potts says:

    I fell in love with teaching at the age of 16 when I became a PT pre-school teacher of three year olds in my country of Puerto Rico. After graduating as a Pre-K to 6grd. teacher I came to the US and once more fell in love with teaching when I was asked if I could teach ESL to Vietnamese and Combodian students.

    After 41 years in education I can look back and see that the reason I fell in love with education was because these children also loved education. They loved to come to school to learn! Their eyes shined with hunger for knowledge, something that is missing in the eyes of many of our American children and has been missing with the “No child left behind”.

    I would love to see a balance of parent eduction and childrens education. What I mean by this is that the new generation is growing up without parenting skills (so they need to be educated in being better parents.) Better parents make better aliances of eduction with teachers! Parents also need to have the time to spend with there children. People have to work two jobs to make ends meet and it takes time away from their families.

    In schools children need to learn to love education again. Pre-schools and elementary schools need to do away with grading. Just grade if the student has dominated the work or if he is still in the process of doing so (NO Letter grades)! These are the ages to build selfesteem, high achivment, and the love for education.

    Last I would love to see a new programe added to the educational system. It’s always been my dream to lead this program. A multi-Cultural awarness class. In this class every school (pre-K to High school) would be set up the same and have the same guidlines to follow. The classes would teach diffrent Cultures, How these people, play, eat, dress, the music and arts, how they educate thier children … I believe that knowing others will help break the chains of pregudicim! Less fights in High schools, less name calling in Middle school and less bad looks in Elementary. Also knowing how other children are educated would bring an edge of competition to American children and they would do better in school. The Americans thrive on competition, so lets use it to cater pulse education into the next century!

    My last and most important point is that it is time to stop teaching for the test! We are making puppets out of our children, they are not learning how to figure things out on their own. They are only learning how to memorize lessons and the bottom line is that teachers will not be standing next to each adult student as he or she trys to make decisions in the real world. Can you just picture a high school graduate in and the job interviewer thinking “I did not memorize that in school, so I can not give an answer”! Lets get back to hands on teaching at all levels Elementary, up to College. We need to let our studnets think for themselves and what a great feeling when you do know the answer to something you yourself have figured out, what a sence of pride, and how eger you are to continue to do more and learn more! Students also need to be recognize for their achivements as well as their teachers that are working hard to guide students in achivig thier maximun potentials. Recognition in their schools, in their locale communities and at a National level is imperative! Recognition and awards boost encouragement to continue high achivment and motivates those that have not reached that level of accoblishment yet!

    We all want educational reform, but it is time not just to want it but to make it happen! It’s time to say we are not going to let another generation go down hill! I am still a teacher, teaching ELL students and will continue to do so for another 15 years. I hope I can spend my last 15 years in education, making a diffrence in the development of a new generation of thinkers! I have the hope that the next president will find real people to advice him in the reform of education. I not only have the hope but I believe that he will see the urgancy to this matter!

  15. Tom says:

    One thing the new President can do to improve the public education system is to establish a program to identify and eliminate lousy teachers, the ones that can’t teach or are uncaring. Another thing the new President should do is eliminate the uniform tiered teacher pay-schedules. Tiered pay has never worked in the past and that continues to be the case in the present. People on tiered pay schedules have no incentive to improve or offer outstanding service. Great teachers deserve to be paid much better then mediocre ones. These two simple measures should help create a stronger education system by attracting the best talent and improving the professions reputation. Dr. T, Virginia

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