If you judge by test scores only, my kid attends a pretty good public school. But at the end of the day, she rarely returns from those hallowed halls of learning excited about anything other than no longer being in those hallowed halls of learning. She’s a bright and curious girl who used to be excited about school. But after several years in the public school system, she’s frustrated, exhausted and completely uninspired.
I don’t blame her teachers. I blame the system. We know it’s broken and our kids are paying the price, but does anyone know how to fix it?
Some award-winning teachers profiled in CNN’s “Fix Our Schools” series think they do.
It all starts with quality teachers, of course. Sarah Wessling, President Obama’s pick for National Teacher of the Year this past April, says she still remembers the teacher who made a difference in her own life. I do, too. Investing in qualified teachers who actually love what they do is key to making school an exciting and happy place to be.
But just having a devoted teacher in the classroom isn’t enough. As other teachers point out, the obsessive focus on testing, the lack of parental involvement and the rigidity of a system that leaves little room for creativity and out-of-the-box thinking all serve to make school a stifling environment in which real learning and growth can be difficult if not impossible.
Other suggestions from teachers include promoting digital literacy by giving all students access to technology and finding alternative ways to fund public education. I’m all for that, but there’s one idea that I just cannot get on board with: Year-round school.
While I am no longer philosophically opposed to the idea, making children spend more time in classrooms where their needs aren’t being met is not my idea of progress.
What do you think is the single most important change that needs to happen to improve our public schools?
More from this author: