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Changes Needed in our Education System
Submitted by: Nancy L. Young-Houser
Today in Nebraska an announcement was made that kindergarten classes were at an all time high, with no roomavailable for more children. Unfortunately, this number is expected to grow according to birthrates over the next five years. And by overly crowding a class, learning becomes more of a challenge for not only the teacher but the children. "That's about as much as we like to put in a class. When there's more it makes it difficult to learn," said Mrs. McClemens about her Kearney Park Elementary Kindergarten class of 25. Because of situations like this, the education field is rapidly expanding into alternative ideas.
CANADA OFFERS NEW EDUCATIONAL VENUES
According to Edmonton Schools in Edmonton, Canada, there are three things which make education a success: choice, accountability, and entrepreneurship. They have changes the educational philosophy from "top down" to "bottom up", with each division spending money where it is needed instead of being dictated to by a central office. The specialty choices in a completely changed system consist of sports schools, art schools, and military academies—choices that over 57% of parents made outside their own neighborhood.
Today, similar education systems are developing in the United States but teachers' unions live in fear that the students will leave their local public school systems and enter private systems. A good thing for the development of this change is the program No Child Left Behind which poses visibility to parents and interested academics. With choice not an option today, maybe Canada's new education system will develop over here. So far, the only city which is beginning to offer choice to parents is New York City, one of the only nation's cities to grow smaller in their schools instead of the typical move toward larger schools.
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND
With schools posting academic success or their lack of it openly, the program "No Child Left Behind" allows absolutely everyone to see where the local schools are failing and what their problems are. Under the new Obama administration, a reauthorization under Education Secretary Arne Duncan will not only toughen up the requirements of teacher quality and academic standards, but also academic standards and focusing on how to assist failing school. Hopefully, the law's testing requirements will evolve under a growing federal role in educational policy as compared to local and state control.
Of the 95,000 schools in our country, approximately 6,000 are considered needing restructuring as they are failing as testing targets under federal law with state control letting them languish. Under the new stimulus law, $3 billion are targeting for school turnarounds which will require governors to step forth and pledge vigorous action.
MAJOR REFORMS NEEDED
With a 2014 deadline set by our current administration, 100% of our students will be brought to math and reading proficiency. Of course, the teachers' unions are concerned over some of the current provisions in the educational stimulus package. One of these concerns will consist of the state governors pledging openly that their states are successful in building sophisticated data systems. Specific systems will allow the authorities to discern between effective and ineffective teachers, linking teachers-to-students-to-test-scores.
In theory, such systems would link teachers to students and test scores and thus, enabling the authorities to distinguish between effective and ineffective teachers. In a March 10 speech, President Obama endorsed using such data systems “to tell us which students had which teachers so we can assess what’s working and what’s not.” With Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association finding fault with this part, I personally wonder who should be responsible for failing to teacher our students adequately
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Nancy L. Young-Houser is a professional writer and illustrator, in addition to providing a home for dogs on all levels of need with her best friend, Sandra Marquiss. Her writings include controversial subjects as part of the soapbox she has carried around since childhood, never leaving home without it. Part of this soapbox is her website WayCoolDogs.com filled with lots of four-legged information!