I wanted to take time out this holiday with battle lines currently etched deep across our state’s educational system, not so much to point out what it is we don’t want, but to remind all that this fight is indeed worth having by reminding us of what is possible for New Castle County Schools, especially those within the city of Wilmington.
Children learn things quickly. it’s our genes; If the brain grows, a growing child fills it up with whatever he has available: whether books, video games, twerking, or basketball.
Our problem which we face today is that we have many children in America who grow up, learning and filling their heads with things which are not being tested on corporate developed Standardized tests… We must accept that they are not stupid; they have for the most part the same number of brain cells as did we, They just used them to study something other than our version of academics, because our version of academics was unavailable to them. Instead they developed neural connections relating to other things.
Example. If one never browses through an encyclopedia, one will never know what is in it. If one does do so, then one has at least a better familiarity with those topics… So to fix education in our cities, we need to work on early exposure, which basically inflates their universe very early in their development, so later neurons can be created out of knowledge particles later.
Secondly we are a big country. If a child is an artist, we will still need artists and forcing them into a spot as a mathematician is bad for them and their employer. “OK, Which one of you keeps drawing daisies on our investor reports?”
Third, think back on your own development… What did you learn and what do you remember? Most likely what you remember are those moments where your emotions dominated your thought process, whether you were happy or frightened, and you remembered those instances. Research is now discovering what we always knew about our selves, which is that when your emotions become stimulated, you remember that moment for a long time. Emotions are what lay the groundwork of our memories, from our beginning to our end.
Anyone who has gone through our military’s basic training (except for the Navy, their’s is a joke), can attest to this. It is a very (both good and bad) emotional time, and one retains a lot. You may love or hate your Drill Sargent, but he is the most effective driver of knowledge you’ll ever know. Without him, learning can not be as thorough.
What works best for children who do learn, is for them to have a personal relationship with their teacher… If they love their teacher, then losing that return affection is an incentive not to do poorly. No one disappoints those they love; if given a choice, they always disappoint those who don’t matter.
This is exactly why we need an 11:1 student teacher ratio in all our schools which have percentages of reduced lunch over 50%. Let us look at the advantages of this. An 11:1 student teacher ratio allows children to know the teacher, and more importantly, the teacher to know the child… It is this bond, especially among those who’ve never had a conversational relationship with an adult, that will cement knowledge into their child’s head.
High need children require more time. With an 11:1 student teacher ratio (grades k-5; and grade 9) in schools of high poverty, a teacher can determine if the child is “getting it”, or if outside factors are preventing that child from moving forward. Even if each child gets an additional hour per week, that is 11 hours spent (one full workday) on top of a full work week every teacher needs to spend… Now explain to me how a high school teacher who has 6 classes of 30 people can spend one hour per child?
Hopefully most readers have seen this before and know the critical factor in improving education is to have a positive relationship between each student and their teacher. To achieve that, you need a ratio underneath the maximum of 11:1
The next step is to pay for that. Raising income taxes on the top 1% of Delaware would add $70 million per year to the revenue stream. This $70 million should go on to insure that sufficient staffing exists in all schools with over 50% poverty levels. Those schools must be at 11:1. Therefore funding for that, needs to be done upfront. By ignoring that piece of the puzzle we will in turn, not discuss the most important piece of whether education succeeds or fails. No one replaces their roof before they figure out how it will be paid. This pay-piece must be in place for all other reforms to follow…
Next, we need to educate children directly at the levels of their abilities… If a child enters school with a vocabulary of 3000 words and his seat-mate enters with a 300 word vocabulary. teaching down the middle will benefit neither.. Both will be lost and unmotivated. Plus children do not learn at the same time of time. Some children learn fast early and slow down later; and others are cool to start, but catch fire later while the others are slowing down. One can see the problems.
The best way to fix that is simple and ingenious. You group children in groups of 11, based on similar test scores. If you have 440 kids in your elementary school, you will have 40 teams of 11 students each and require 40 teachers. This allows each teacher to specialize in the individual needs of each of their students. Her 11 person class might include those who scored between 500-550. Her partner teachers in the same class, might have the 550-600 range and the third teacher in that classroom, might have the 600-650 score range of students….
If lack of space requires it, this still allows 33 children in the same classroom while complying with the 11:1 ratio. Each teacher’s job is to make sure their class of 11 understands all educational basics. In this arrangement there should be no child held back for a year, (unless outside circumstances come into play). The child with low vocabulary works on growing it. The child with a huge vocabulary, works on growing his as well. Each can apply themselves fully to the task at hand. And there is certain to be intellectual crossover in the same class where what is learned by the top group, gets picked up by the lower two…
With proper funding, this arrangement works on so many fronts. it allows for specialization by each teacher since their groups are homogenized by test scores, but the entire room remains full of diversity.
Fourth, we need to phase out Charter Schools. Or to be more precise, make them no longer compete against public schools for funds. Instead, fund Charter Schools out of line items in the state budget. We currently do so with vocational schools. If a child wants to go to vocational school, he goes and his school money does not follow him; it stays in his feeder school. This would allow public schools to keep their money and properly allocate the experimental funding of charters to the correct repository of that research: the state DOE. It would also serve as a revenue boost for each public school competing against charters, one coming without the raising of property taxes district wide.
There are two more planks which we can cover later. For now, I want you to see how easy it would be to provide education on the world class level with that of Finland by carrying forward four simple steps.
- 1) 11:1 student teacher ration in schools over 50% poverty line
- 2) Tax the top 1% to cover increased expenses.
- 3) Group children with others scoring as did they on the test.
- 4) Eliminate Charter’s drain on public education.
Hopefully this easy solution to today’s educational problems, is deemed worthy of fighting over. Because it is.
It’s official! By 2050 whites are the minority. So who will run things? Currently all population trends point out those lucky ones will be today’s least educated. History over the last century showed two ways these reins of power can be exchanged… One happened in the former nation of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, The other was South Africa. Whites need to hope and pray the South African model becomes the one chosen. There is no guarantee America will be great forever.. Either of these choices can happen and the wrong one will cause the economic collapse of this country.
Today’s child entering kindergarten THIS YEAR, will be 40 when that shift occurs… Today’s child will be running the country when if lucky we in our 80’s and 90’s will be completely dependent upon them….
This past class year, we needed to have these true reforms in place. We are already behind one year… How many more years does it take before we finally drop this charade which lets wealthy get rich by appearing to help lower economic levels get an education, and instead, …make the right choices which immediately start giving them a real education?