We currently spend ~ $800 billion annually on education, and at the same time, our education system is struggling to keep pace with the rest of the world. This can be linked to symptoms such as low teacher salaries, excessive class sizes, lack of parent involvement, and even the basic structure of schooling itself.
We need to look at what our children really need to be successful and acknowledge that it will be different for everyone. Some kids will do fine in a large classroom, some kids will need more one-on-one time with the teacher, and some will be mostly fine on their own. There are multiple ways that we can realize improvements in this area. And they do not necessarily need more funding.
- Train the teachers: Teachers deserve quality professional development and coaching to support them in their efforts. Not only will strong learning experiences and opportunities for educators lead to better outcomes for students, but it will also build an engaged, talented, and supported workforce. We need to value our educators by supporting them as dynamic professionals invested in improving their practice.
- Move away from standardization and uniformity of learning focused on a "one size fits all" paradigm as they are an inaccurate guide to a student's ability.
Reduce some or most of the high-stakes testing that sucks time and creativity from students who need it most starting in 3rd grade. Weeks and weeks are lost to teaching the tests and then take the tests. The best-performing countries (such as Finland) do not spend time and money on such testing.
- We should be teaching them the knowledge they need to live in today's world. How to think for themselves, how to find information, etc.
- In its place, the system should develop and promote career and technical education at grades 6-10, offering greater choice, including graduation at sixteen for students pursuing associate degrees and trade certificates
- Change the focus of what is taught at different ages more appropriate to developmental progress.
- Make elementary school about literacy, creativity, and play
- Make middle school about self-discovery, accountability, and an introduction to how to find and evaluate the information they care about
- Make high school about citizenship, thinking habits, and guided participation in physical and digital networks.
- Devote funding and resources to providing social supports to students and families in terms of nutrition, health care, child care, counseling, supervision, etc.
- Reduce the distorting emphasis on sports in school life, which engenders misplaced priorities for too many people.
- Provide options for students to attend class remotely, and let them investigate a lot more. Most of the world’s info is online and we don’t need teachers simply repeating it.
- Emphasis learning Critical Thinking and Problem Solving. Innovation and creativity are based on understanding things, not on something memorized. Focus on teaching students how to use and apply their minds to tasks or problems. These are skills that are usable in any career field.
- Introduce digital libraries to help the students access the books and materials at any time. This allows schools to minimize the need to purchase multiple physical versions of books, and allows for content to be updated more often.
We can also look at the fact that some children will do better in a different learning environment. Instead of the child and their parents being on their own, money that is theoretically allocated to the school district for that child could be used for that child to attend private school, charter school, or one of the many types of remote/home-based education options.