Sunday, December 06, 2009

Advice to public school systems: do more with less

The DC Examiner on Sunday, Dec. 6 has a stern article on the school systems, “Do more with less in lean times, education experts say,” in a story by Leah Fabel, based on interviews with DC area school systems. The web link URL is here.

There is an impression that schools really can do with fewer teachers and larger classes, and can let less energetic teachers go. Michelle Rhee has pretty much proven that with the DC school system. Ditto for adminisrative staff, which could afford cuts. It’s not clear how all this would affect Career Switcher programs. It also says that businesses should encourage employees to volunteer to mentor students.

Remember the call for much teachers for public schools did not really get going until about 2003. During the 1970s, 80s and 90s teaching was not seen by the larger public and the media as a particularly attractice calling; and many poorer school districts struggled with budgets and layoffs.

The Cato Institute still favors vouchers for private schools, and can point to the Kipp Program as an example of what entrepreneurs can do in education .

Nevertheless, local school systems say they have openings for subs. Here is the Fairfax County link.

Annie Gowen in the Dec. 6 Sunday Washington Post reports "Lack of computer access hampers some students: Even wealthy Fairfax is forced to contend with a digital divide", link here. While Internet safety consultants tell parents to put family computers in public areas, kids really need considerable private access for legitimate homework. Kids without Internet access at home are at a serious academic disadvantage. On the other hand, teachers sometimes fear that overuse of the Internet leads to plagiarism, or imporperly researched papers (like the issue over citing Wikipedia). When I subbed, many lesson plans were on printed handouts that could have been supplemented by Internet research.

Also, the New York Times on Sunday has an article by Bernie Becker, "Troops Finding New Service as Teachers," link here.

Picture: (math quiz question): how many complete closed railroad circuits are on this Brio layout?

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