We must improve our public schools. All children must have a fair, strong chance to be prepared for college and employment. It’s in their interest and it’s in ours too, as a community and nation. Students who under-perform or drop out become alienated. Too often we lose the entrepreneurs and workers of the future, and they too often drift into criminal behavior.
Reform of public education is complex. But there are some steps that can and must be taken.
- Teacher recruitment and retention must be strengthened by providing teachers with more classroom support. Support includes more training, smaller class sizes and services to assist teachers with students who, because of emotional and behavioral problems, disrupt classroom learning.
- Pre-kindergarten programs are indispensable if all students are to be well prepared for grades K-12.
- State funding for schools – the so-called Thornton formula – must be updated to reflect rising costs and essentials: more summer and after-school programs, and access to technology.
- Implementation of the new Common Core standards and tests must be phased in to allow teachers and students ample time to absorb and excel.
- Overcrowded schools must be relieved and facilities upgraded.
- Special education for students with disabilities does not fulfill their potential, notwithstanding their disabilities. Expectations and services must be raised. This ranges from students who are cognitively disabled to students with dyslexia and ADHD.
- Suspensions of young students (pre-K through 3rd grade) should be ended, and replaced by alternative interventions, including supportive services for the students and their parents.