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How can we fix our education system?

Posted by on Feb. 28, 2009 at 11:37 AM
  • 48 Replies

I've thought about this question a lot.  After reading the CNN article about the possibility of longer school years, it got me thinking about it again.

The only solution I can come up with is (drum roll please) MONEY!  Yup, money.  The root of all evil.  (if you believe some) 

Even if the solution is longer school years, that initiative will still need money to keep the schools open.  Where will this money come from?  Well, it just so happens that my love for education and our children's future goes hand-in-hand with my distaste for warring with other countries.  A report shows that we've spent close to 700 billion dollars on the war in Iraq.  

If you want to see how that number affects you, go to this site Cost of War and enter in the information about your community.  Here are my results:

Taxpayers in Brevard County, Florida will pay $1.1 billion for total Iraq war spending approved to date. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:
390,925 People with Health Care for One Year OR
779,198 Homes with Renewable Electricity for One Year OR
25,522 Public Safety Officers for One year OR
17,699 Music and Arts Teachers for One Year OR
345,587 Scholarships for University Students for One Year OR
8,171 Affordable Housing Units OR
612,358 Children with Health Care for One Year OR
151,174 Head Start Places for Children for One Year OR
18,891 Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR
13,464 Port Container Inspectors for One year

  At a time when Florida is cutting school funding, teachers and extracurricular activities, the numbers above make me angry.

Let's imagine with this new administration, the war gets wrapped up or the world community finally steps up and pitches in their share of help so that the US does not support the entire financial burden of helping Iraq get back on its feet.  For now, we will not talk about the ginormous deficit. 

What do I expect to happen if we poured money into our education system?  First off, teachers need better pay.  If teaching were a high paying job, it would attract more people, which in turn means teaching positions will become competitive.  Schools will have choices and can choose the best teacher suited for their needs.  When jobs are competitive and higher paying, people better themselves to get the job.  We'll see teachers working harder and becoming more creative in their teaching methods.  And let's all admit, when you're getting paid a decent salary, working, in any field, is more enjoyable.  We're putting our children's minds and futures in their hands, they deserve the respect and compensation.

With more funding, schools can keep and even expand critical subjects like physical education, art and music.  The more diverse the education, the better chance a student will find something that lights a passion in them. 

After school activities have always won praise for keeping kids off the streets.  But it's also offering more options to students and parents.  Clubs can be a wonderful place to discover more about a topic of interest and make friends.  Students who participate in band and sports have shown to do better in academics.

Obviously, better lab equipment and technology cost more money.  Teaching supply funds are often not enough and teachers end up buying supplies out-of-pocket.

Even longer school years looks like a good idea to me.  Then teachers have the time they need to ensure students understand the subject.  Field trips and days of exploration can be planned with out sacrificing lesson plans.

I dream of a school for my son where the teachers are happy and motivated to be there.  Where the class sizes are small and the teachers know my son personally, know what sports he plays and maybe even what music he listens to.  I dream of a school where he can play an instrument and compete in sports.  Where learning about the animal kingdom is never taught with out a visit to the zoo.  Or teaching about the government means a trip to the capitol and some Q&A with a senator.

It's easy to say throw money at the problem.  We've been throwing money at problems for as long as there's been taxpayer money to throw.  I believe we are investing in the wrong areas.  Funding our schools will have some short term rewards such as happier, healthier kids, and perhaps less stressed out parents.  But our biggest reward will be 10 years from now.  If we're patient and persistent, there will be less drop outs.  There will be more teens aspiring to do things they believe are within their reach.  The American workforce will be well-rounded and better educated.  The adults of the future will have the knowledge they need to make better choices than we have in the past.  They will no longer take our planet earth for granted.  They will understand that helping the human community is just as important as advancing themselves.  And most importantly, they will know that the children are our future and we must invest in them.

I'm not suggesting we stop funding our military and divert all of that money to schools.  But there is something wrong with our mentality if the funding for national defence is 10 times the amount we spend on education.  Both are important to our future, but I would rather prepare my son to make the decisions that do not lead to war.  

by on Feb. 28, 2009 at 11:37 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Sportbominable
by Member on Feb. 28, 2009 at 11:47 AM

I pay for my kids to get a much better education at Catholic school. I don't care what they do to make the public schools better, as long as they don't raise my school taxes again for a school system I'll never use.

cmarielin
by on Feb. 28, 2009 at 11:57 AM

For the past two years as we've gotten our taxes done, we ask our tax lady if there is a tax discount for homeschooling or private schooling parents, and she's been saying, "Not yet."  Maybe a tax cut is coming for parents who use better methods of education.

I might be more happy about tax money funding the education system in the U.S, but our public education system stinks anymore.  Decades ago, families immigrated to the U.S. because we had the best education system, and they wanted their children to have good educations.  Well, the kids don't get that anymore. 

It's kind of like feeding a dead horse.  Home schooling and private schooling are much better ways for my money to be spent.  Just my humble;and probably controversial; opinion.

blowing kisses

"Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed."  ~Joseph Stalin, tyrant dictator.  (Homeschooling was then outlawed by the Soviet State in 1919, by Hitler and Nazi Gertmany in 1938, and by Communist China in 1949.) 


http://www.cafemom.com/group/35896

chesiretuff
by Member on Feb. 28, 2009 at 12:09 PM


Quoting cmarielin:

For the past two years as we've gotten our taxes done, we ask our tax lady if there is a tax discount for homeschooling or private schooling parents, and she's been saying, "Not yet."  Maybe a tax cut is coming for parents who use better methods of education.

I might be more happy about tax money funding the education system in the U.S, but our public education system stinks anymore.  Decades ago, families immigrated to the U.S. because we had the best education system, and they wanted their children to have good educations.  Well, the kids don't get that anymore. 

It's kind of like feeding a dead horse.  Home schooling and private schooling are much better ways for my money to be spent.  Just my humble;and probably controversial; opinion.

blowing kisses

hmmm.  You should get a tax break for home schooling or private schools.  Not because you don't use the public school system, but because that's what you chose for your children.

chesiretuff
by Member on Feb. 28, 2009 at 12:14 PM


Quoting Sportbominable:

I pay for my kids to get a much better education at Catholic school. I don't care what they do to make the public schools better, as long as they don't raise my school taxes again for a school system I'll never use.

Raising taxes aside, shouldn't everyone care about the public school system?  It's great that you can afford a better education for your children, but you have to admit that's not an option for most families.  I think everyone benefits from having well-educated kids grow into well-educated adults.  Even the singles with out kids and seniors have a stake in the near future.

tuplamama
by Bronze Member on Feb. 28, 2009 at 12:25 PM

I do not believe this article. My country Finland is always on the top in international PISA studies and here school doesn't start until children are 7 years old. Schooldays are short(1-2.grade; weekly hours only 20)and we have very little homework compared to USA. Basic education lasts 9 years.

We have 2,5 months summervacation, 2,5 weeks long winter vacation. 1 week vacation in both autumn and spring.

Small groups, personal study plans and highly educated, wellpaid teachers!

Quolity , not quontity works better in my opinion.

And.

Something that is VERY important to me personally. Every child has the right to good education no matter if their parents are rich or poor. Here we do have different schools, like Waldorf, and so on but ALL school systems must be free. All children deserve best!!

(you can read about PISA here; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment  )

Junebug926
by Bronze Member on Feb. 28, 2009 at 12:44 PM

YES!!! Quality not quantity! I was a teacher before my dd was born and from what I've seen is that the kids whose parents have them in line, come to school to learn, and have proper support at home do fine. Longer school days or more school day aren't going to solve anything.

Quoting tuplamama:

I do not believe this article. My country Finland is always on the top in international PISA studies and here school doesn't start until children are 7 years old. Schooldays are short(1-2.grade; weekly hours only 20)and we have very little homework compared to USA. Basic education lasts 9 years.

We have 2,5 months summervacation, 2,5 weeks long winter vacation. 1 week vacation in both autumn and spring.

Small groups, personal study plans and highly educated, wellpaid teachers!

Quolity , not quontity works better in my opinion.

And.

Something that is VERY important to me personally. Every child has the right to good education no matter if their parents are rich or poor. Here we do have different schools, like Waldorf, and so on but ALL school systems must be free. All children deserve best!!

(you can read about PISA here; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment  )


chesiretuff
by Member on Feb. 28, 2009 at 12:46 PM


Quoting tuplamama:

I do not believe this article. My country Finland is always on the top in international PISA studies and here school doesn't start until children are 7 years old. Schooldays are short(1-2.grade; weekly hours only 20)and we have very little homework compared to USA. Basic education lasts 9 years.

We have 2,5 months summervacation, 2,5 weeks long winter vacation. 1 week vacation in both autumn and spring.

Small groups, personal study plans and highly educated, wellpaid teachers!

Quolity , not quontity works better in my opinion.

And.

Something that is VERY important to me personally. Every child has the right to good education no matter if their parents are rich or poor. Here we do have different schools, like Waldorf, and so on but ALL school systems must be free. All children deserve best!!

(you can read about PISA here; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment  )

Right on!  That's very interesting, I did not know that about Finland.  Shorter days AND shorter years. With the reasons you listed:  small groups, personal study plans, and highly educated, well-paid teachers, I bet Finland's education system is well-funded.

forsythia_18
by on Feb. 28, 2009 at 12:53 PM

I went to an all year round school when I lived in California and I loved it!  Throughout the school year you get three 2 week breaks and then a shorter Summer.  It's the same amount of days but more frequent breaks.  You don't have the chance to forget everything you've learned from the year before over a long Summer. 

forsythia_18
by on Feb. 28, 2009 at 12:55 PM

I think we should adopt the education system that Germany uses. 

JJTaylor
by Member on Feb. 28, 2009 at 1:58 PM

Although I support home schooling and private schooling for the people that choose to use these avenues for their families, I don't see why so many choose to judge and wipe their hands clean (so to speak) of the so called dirty, public school systems?  Isn't this one of the reasons many school systems are suffering? 

I think if you have the abilities and time and money to do alternatives other then public then go for it!  I congratulate you and tip my hat off to the home schooling parents, that's a very difficult job. 

That all being said, I think there are public school systems that still work within the United States, however, that doesn't mean I don't think there is always room for improvement.

I live in Washington state, I HATE the WASL testing, I am hopeful they will either change them or get rid of them all together.  The problem I have with these tests is that the schools that are showing bad test scores panic, only teach what is required on these tests; and neglect the variety that is needed for a good education.  If the test scores come back bad one year the school is placed on probation and then the next year they can result in loosing jobs and shutting down schools, in theory this could have been a good thing, however, the teachers are only human and need a job just as much as we do. 

Even though Washington doesn't support them yet, I am all for schools called "Charter Schools".  When we lived in Idaho, way before we became parents, they passed the bill to allow them, what happens is they create them all over the state, they still have the normal public schools, however the charter schools, even though considered public, they hold a lottery to get into the system (if one child in a family is drawn then all get to go); because so many want their kids to go, they had to create these lotteries.  Idaho use to have a very bad education system, however, since the charter system became active, it has enabled parents to be more involved, and have a bigger say in what is being taught in the classroom.  They are ran much more hands on and less students per class.  Oregon also has Charter Schools. 

My daughter is in kindergarten in the school that I use to attend way back... a long time ago, I graduated in 1990.  I already can see such a better environment in her education and better teachers; the school itself pushes for better education.  They have scored #1 in test scores several years in a row; I am confident for now, that my child is getting a good education.  I also volunteer 2 times a week in the classroom and plan to be playing a big role in her education her entire life, I think if you can keep yourself and your child informed and on the right path your child no matter where you are will get a better education.  I am also not afraid of making waves and making sure she does get a good education no matter what needs to be done. 

By the way, washing your hands of public schools and claiming you don't care what happens to the public school system isn't always the best idea... since public schools typically teach more then 80% of the population, if you don't think they are learning... (they being all the kids other then yours) anything and the education they are getting isn't worth anything... I would honestly be worried, since they will be our next generation running this country, it won't be ran just by kids in private schools and home schooled.  I think we all should be concerned regardless of how and where our kids are getting their educations.  Plus your kids will be side by side with them at all those colleges they plan to head off to in the years to come.

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