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  • T x over 5 years ago

    Let's face it: many of the great ideas on this site will require money, and almost all would be improved by some.  However, we all know that money is tight, so here's a short list of places I think the district could save money to use it for another purpose.  I don't know the size of each of these pots, but every little bit counts.

    1.  Phase out school buses

         America is one of the few countries that has school buses; most students around the world take public transportation to school.  I would imagine that the district could work with Metro to get routes and schedules adjusted to better get kids to and from school and give all students free passes.  This could be done over several years, perhaps school-by-school, and might include preserving buses for special cases (schools or homes that are especially difficult to reach, students with special transportation needs, etc.).

    2.  Don't update curriculum very frequently

    Most of what is taught in school doesn't change very quickly.  You could use a math book from the 1950's and still learn how to add and subtract, and you could use a style guide from then to write a fine essay.  I think the continual search for new textbooks is wasteful.  Obviously, modern history classes are an exception to this, as are computer-programming classes and probably a few others.  In general, however, I think that most textbooks should be purchased en masse, used until they're decrepit, and replaced with the same textbook from the storage room, with new curriculum adoptions being done as rarely as possible (every 15 years?).

    3.  Quit hiring consultants

    Most businesses, our district included, waste a lot of money getting the consultant of the moment to come in and tell them what they should do differently, then hire a different one to tell them something different the next year.  We have a lot of exceptional staff in our district (as do most other districts) who should generally be given the freedom to chart their own course and play to their strengths.  When there is a teacher who truly needs a course correction, the administration should obviously provide that, and teachers who want to pursue a particular trianing should be allowed to do so, but the top-down dictate that everyone study at the feet of the outside consultant should stop.

    I'm sure there are other places that money could be saved, as well as reasons that the ideas above should be amended in some way...  let's hear them!

    2 Supports Created
  • Imagine if most of the high schools in the district did not have a football team, or if elementary schools did not have softball teams or Field Day.  Few people would stand for that, and for good reason.  But just as all schools should encourage physical excellence, they should encourage academic excellence, as well.

    Academic excellence does not mean getting a perfect score on a test in class, just like physical excellence does not mean doing 20 push ups in PE, although both are great.  Academic excellence means reaching beyond the classroom and testing ourselves against others.  This isn't just for a few superstar students; there needs to be a team to support them, just like the star quarterback needs a team to support him and a team to compete against.

    I believe the district should require/pressure/encourage schools to create math clubs, robotics clubs, chess clubs, creative writing clubs, language clubs, etc. to a much larger extent than they currently do.  I understand that not all schools will be able to have every possible club, but to have few or none should be unacceptable.

    The district could provide mentors for teachers or parents who are unsure how to run such clubs, and could provide small stipends that build over time until such "positions" are filled.  To really be pursuing academic excellence, clubs should be encouraged to attend regional competitions and events to measure themselves against their peers from other schools and districts.

  • T x over 5 years ago

    When I went through the Challenge Program in the 80's, the program was individualized to help each student reach their maximum potential, and I'd like to see that added back into the program.

    Back then, when it was math time, spelling time, etc., we broke up into groups at different levels and worked on different skills with different materials.  Some students were so advanced in some subjects that they were in a group by themselves!

    Currently, the Challenge Program strives to have all students exactly one year ahead in the subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic.  Strangely, this means that once they've entered the program and made that leap, everyone learns one year of material each year, regardless of any differences in ability or interest.

    In addition, many of the students selected for the Challenge Program have learning styles that are not textbook-focused.  Challenge teachers should be trained to individualize their instruction , providing pedagogy other than workbooks.

    Similarly, motivational techniques should be varied as well.  Although some students will step up their efforts to avoid being labeled "Trouble", some will believe the label and shut down.  A mix of positive and negative motivational techniques tailored to the student would be best.

  • I went through the Challenge Program in the 80's and it was incredible!  We made movies, programmed computers, went on numerous field trips, competed in creative writing contests, role-played in simulations, and so much more!

    The current focus on getting all students exactly one year ahead in the subjects of arithmetic, reading, and writing is all wrong, in my opinion.  This is essentially the equivalent of having the students skip a grade, which I think very few districts do any longer.

    These kids can learn almost anything, so why just move them up one rung up these three ladders?  There are a million other ladders out there, and showing them to the kids can really expand their horizons and excite them to learn more.