As the school year opens ...

  • Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dear Editor,  
As the school year opens, I think of so many strategies to configure poor performing schools.  What I am about to say is probably going to sound so anachronistic, but I feel sometimes it just pays to reinvent the wheel.
Many schools have been identified as poor performing schools.  Many places have given parents the option of trying a charter school in that instance.  Or, a magnet school is another option,  so enticing with its specialty, be it science, the arts, or languages etc.
How did it all get so complicated that kids had to take an hour bus ride each way to garner the type of education they deserved?
When I taught in a school that was tethering or falling below baseline for standardized testing, we quickly pulled together on staff development sessions to explore methods, materials, and discipline.  We also reviewed areas where more teacher aides were
needed.  Our aides either stayed in the classroom with a student or took them in the back of the room as they saw appropriate. These aides were very good with the students and familiar with the material. Some classes could have had as many as three aides, but it worked.  Test scores came up and schools ran okay again.
My friends and taxpayers, it sure beat paying for extra buses, renting warehouses to serve as schools, and having kids attend a school so different from where their neighborhood friends live.
There are so many supplemental components that can be used to cut down on the extra cost.
Your child is a science whiz you say? Great, so have the gifted science teacher go on a floating basis and see you student three times a week.
It worked in the 60's, and I bet it would work again.  
Having school aides who are so committed to raising a child's level of learning is important.  They need to be trained and most of them end up being an asset.  
And, always remember this…  The testing is not the sum total of your student. Some standardized testing is necessary. Maybe two each year.  But, those tests do not measure ambition, creativity and people skills.  
Let's get back to the way it used to be. That way no poor soul has to sit in an office calculating how much voucher money goes to what family or coordinate a circuitous bus route for students who have not thrived in their neighborhood schools.

Thank you,
Sunny Cook
Elm Hall Circle

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