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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Reforms that don't reinvent the wheel, break the bank or deamonize teachers

People that hold positions that require a certificate should be required to teach one class a day. They would report to a home school first thing for their class before doing/resuming their district duties. If the school board expects teachers to work ten hour days they should likewise expect the district staff to work ten hours a day. This could help with the upcoming class size amendment. The district staff could see what does work and what doesn’t work in the classroom. There is a huge disconnect with teachers and the district staff this will help bridge that gap. I also think principals, assistant principals, academic coaches and deans assigned to schools should be required to teach one class a day.

School board members should be required to substitute teach in their district once per week. There is also a disconnect with what goes on in the classroom and what the school board thinks should be going on in the classroom. They would get a better understanding of what’s going on if they were actually in the trenches.

Allow juniors who have passed the f-cat and have a 3.0 average test out of their senior year. A lot of student’s senior years are filled with electives and classes they will easily past. Why not let some start the next phase of their lives early. Offer it a week before graduation and charge 150 dollars. Or allow them to take it half way through their senior years have a district wide graduation ceremony.

Part time teachers could be hired to teach just one or two classes a day, think adjuncts in college; pay them 15-20 dollars an hour depending on experience, provide them lesson plans, curriculums and materials to teach. These teachers could teach the required after school classes for students who have fallen behind.

Instead of paying teachers their normal rate over the summer reduce it to 15-20 dollars an hour. So many teachers look for part time jobs anyway and this would allow the district to hire more teachers to pay for more summer school classes.

Change teacher’s salaries. Statistics show a significant amount of teachers don’t last five years, yet the salary difference between a first year teacher and a tenth year teach is negligible. Pay first year teachers less and teachers who have been doing it for a while that have proved they can do it, significantly more.

Nobody who works for the school board should make more than 100 thousand dollars; if people want to be rich they should go into the private sector. I do however think teachers who have proven they can do the job and have done the job consistently well over time should be paid considerably more.

Get the JEA to pay property taxes or waive electricity fees.

A one cent sales tax to help finance education issues.

Students in grades 3-11 that don’t have a 2.0 G.P.A. in their core academic classes at the end of the year should be required to go to summer school for promotion. The summer school could be for maintenance, for acquiring additional skills and/or to give them a step up for the following year. If they don’t go they are not promoted. If parents know that this can happen then they may rethink their level of involvement.

Students in grades 6-11 that have failed a core academic class should be required to stay after school for an additional class for at least the following nine weeks or until their grades improve for extra academic assistance.

Drop algebra II as a requirement of graduation at the neighborhood schools. Why have academic magnet schools if the requirements for graduation are the same at all schools. When a kid fails a math class in high school they often have to take two math classes at a time which exacerbates the problem. Algebra II could still be offered at the neighborhood schools for students interested in related fields.

Make classes in high school no longer than sixty minutes at least in the neighborhood schools. The school board might not like to hear it but there is a lot of downtime involved in ninety minute classes which cut down on the amount of instruction kids get. You hear it all the time from teachers, from minute 1-60 the kids are engaged but after that it gets more difficult. Children often begin to lose focus the longer classes go which means they learn less and act out more.

Let teachers know what is to be covered in nine week increments then test at the end of the nine weeks. Make the topics to be covered reasonable and then let the teachers cover them how they want. The school board should be more worried about student output (how they do) than the manner of teacher input (how the teachers teach). Every nine weeks the district would have a picture to see how both the teachers and students are doing.

Magnet schools for students who have failed two or more times: instead of just having magnet programs for the best students the ones who arguably need the extra resources the least we should have specialized programs for the students who need them the most, those students who have failed multiple times.

If we did that we could stop social promotions due to age. Instead they would go to the specialized school with the specialized programs until they caught up.

Streamline the process for removing maladaptive students. If a student gets five referrals in a nine weeks for any infraction, two for fighting or one for threatening a school board employee they should be removed to a stricter environment for the rest of the nine weeks and the next one. If we got serious on discipline we could make great strides in improving the academic environment. If a student has a grade point average less than one after a semester then it should be even easier to remove them for repeated violations of the code of conduct. There are some students whose whole aim for going to school is disrupting the learning process and they should be dealt with.

Don't tie principal’s evaluations to suspensions. That takes a tool out of their box and encourages them to encourage teachers not to write referrals. Many teachers endure bad teaching environments rather than writing students up and seeing nothing happened or get questioned for doing so.

Don’t run from discipline. Children need consequences for their behavior or their behavior will worsen and remember for a consequence to be effective it must be meaningful. We must come up with meaningful consequences and trust that teachers only write children up as a last resort until they prove otherwise.

Instead of having suspension centers use the 2 million dollar to hire forty social workers. Often when a student acts up or does poorly at school this is a symptom of their home life. Forty social workers could have a caseload of 30 each that would be 1200 of the children who are in the most trouble. Instead of just treating the result of a student’s behavior, the suspension, perhaps we could get to the root of the students problems and provide services and referrals when applicable.

Specialized classes for seniors that have not passed the f-cat. Seniors who have not passed the f-cat should have one academic mission and that’s to pass the f-cat so they can graduate with standard diplomas.

All middle and high schools should have city bus stops. Students should be allowed to use their school ids for free rides. This opens up numerous opportunities including assisting with transporting students home who were required to stay after school for grade improvement/maintenance.

Bring back summer gym. Could help with the obesity issue, provide lunches for children over the summer, give students an additional credit and would provide a safe structured environment

1 comment:

  1. Have the remedial magnet centers coupled with vocational training. Give the Kids a purpose to their education that they can see.
    The A/B block schedule and it's forerunner, the 4 X 4 block schedule was introduced in 1998 by Fryer. Then Grade Recovery followed. Excellerated programs like IB and ACIS require more student contact time to fullfill the requirements of the program. Since these programs are international in design and many countries have more student contact time by design, longer days, and or longer school years.