Ten modest proposals to better schools

July 07, 2003

To the editor

Ten suggestions for preventing the education of American children from being an economic burden to their parents, counties, states or nation.

  1. No public institution receives more attention, more criticism, more suggestions and more money than the public schools of America. Recently the suggestions and criticism seem to be increasing in direct proportion to the financial woes and funding problems in this nation. Desiring to be a good citizen and a proponent of cost-efficient schools, I have compiled a list of 10 suggestions, which if adopted, could radically change the public schools of this great nation, and save money. Imagine that.

  2. Legislate learning. Curriculum and methodology could be drafted into state law. Why not entrust curricular decisions and teaching practices to those who know nothing about learning theory, positive and negative reinforcement and learning styles? Our elected officials will evaluate all funding on the most important of all bases: Cost.

  3. Being too busy to deal with the boring details of daily education, the legislature could then transfer its responsibility to a state board of education which could attend to the mundane and annoying particulars of running the state's schools. A State Board of Education, with a set curriculum in place by law, could take over the responsibility of ordering materials for districts under its purview. With one curriculum in place, state law could require that only specific texts could be used. These could be ordered in bulk. Imagine the savings when books and materials are ordered in such bulk. Imagine the savings.

  4. Since only one curriculum would be in place for each state, supervisory personnel at localities could then be eliminated. Their responsibilities could be handled by installing a video camera in each classroom in the state. Random samples of teaching on specific days could be used to evaluate teachers. Imagine the savings.

  5. Supervisory personnel could be transferred back to classroom duty where their expertise would be available for all their colleagues to see. Obviously, some teachers would be riffed to make room for the displaced supervisors. Imagine the improved instruction and savings.

  6. Moving along with cost-cutting measures, state boards of education could eliminate two other groups in local school systems, thereby reducing payrolls and retirement funds. Those two groups would be the janitorial-maintenance people and the cafeteria employees. The janitorial duties of cleaning classrooms could be turned over to classroom teachers, who will have more time to do so since they no longer have to plan and implement curriculum. Maintenance work could be placed in the able hands of industrial arts teachers and their classes.

  7. Lunch and breakfasts could be prepared by the teachers of home economics and their classes. We could call these programs school-based maintenance. After all, aren't teachers "public servants?" Let's make them live up to that title. Imagine the savings.

  8. Mandating that all beginning teachers have a master's degree before entering the profession would relieve the local jurisdictions from having to compensate teachers for graduate studies. Imagine the savings.

  9. In concert with suggestion No. 6, state boards could stiffen the requirements for a teaching certificate by requiring prospective teachers to complete a full year of student teaching (for which they must pay).

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