So as education stands right now it's not working. Everyone is pointing fingers as the rules and demands grow. As the demands grow the results don't seem to improve. Then we add more rules and requirements to the previous ones. It is a cycle that makes us feel better because we are trying to fix the problem but were really not fixing anything. In fact we are making it worse. Teachers get bogged down with not enough time in the day to get done what is expected and in return feel overwhelmed. Here is an alternative.
But first I have to point out some facts about how our education system is run.
The First problem that faces the education system is funding in public schools. We can't pay a teacher for the hard work they are doing. The only reason most teachers stick around is that despite all the problems in education they know that they have one of the most meaningful jobs in the world. The problem is that with all the requirements teachers aren't staying for even that anymore. Teachers are leaving almost as fast as they are coming.
The second problem is charter schools. The idea of charter schools is grand but the result is not so grand. At charter schools class sizes are capped, difficult students are expelled, and poor teachers are let go. This seems great on the surface but when you look at the toll it takes on public schools who get all the gunk that rolls downhill it isn't as positive as some may think. Charter schools take funding from public schools to run, and they are not doing any better than public schools as we once hoped.
Public schools have no choice but to deal with the students expelled from the charter school and the teachers have no choice but to work with them. Because of this a teacher with 32 students hired to teach 5th grade will teach a classroom of the same aged students with several students at a kindergarten, first, second, third, and fourth grade level. If they are lucky they will have a large portion of 5th grade level students and several higher students but even this requires more work on their part. The teacher has to come up with lessons for all the students at all different levels all throughout the day. This is an impossible task but it is their legal responsibility. I did not even mention the even larger task which is controlling all the behaviors of these multi-level students. I guarantee this is not for the light of heart.
The last issue is, private schools. I have no beef with private schools. People pay good money for their students to go there and get very good education in small classes with teachers that get paid well. Everything about it is wonderful except the majority can't afford it.
Now, The Solution to Education
Switch all these around. Make public education the new private school. Let it be available to everyone for free but set strict behavioral rules and academic standards. Only now if a standards and behavioral expectations are not met students will be asked to leave with the only last available option being homeschooled or for the parents to pay for a private school.
In these settings students can work hard to get caught up or improve social skills with parents or specialist teachers. If they can show that they are capable they may return to the public school where they can enjoy their free education.
Why would this work?
It's simple, studies have shown that the number one reason for students success in education is a parents involvement. Think of all the lackadaisical parents that don't care about how their students behavior or lack of motivation is affecting a large classroom full of eager students. Now picture that parent given the option to get involved or pay for your child to go to private school or stay at home and take on the task themselves so the high quality public classroom can function at high-capacity learning.
The result, with parent involvement students would flourish. With the ability to control the classroom environment, it would cut down on the teachers responsibility to create multiple lessons and deal with so many behavioral issues and focus on meaningful lessons. This would lighten the teachers load. This would speed up interventions. Students that are not performing academically will get specialized help and parent involvement with a motivation to work hard to get them back into the new public schools.
In other words, involved parent, happy teacher, learning student.
Is this realistic?
Sure, it's realistic but the likelihood of it ever happening are unlikely. For starters there is too much invested in what we are already doing and second the transition would scare to many people. The idea of making a big changes seems extremely important because the direction we are headed isn't working. Education used to be achieved through imagination, desire, and big dreams but it is being replaced with common, one size fits all standards for a more diverse world than has ever lived. In a way its like buying the same size t-shirts for every player on a football team! Those line backers sure would look funny but our education system is nothing to laugh at.