Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Where We Should Go in Public Education in New York State Now that Testocracy is on the Defensive

As public education in New York State gets a new lease on life as a result of Betty Rosa's election as Regents Chancellor, the election of a new pro-public school majority on the Buffalo School Board, and the gradual loss of credibility of Charter Schools as a solution to education inequality, we need to start putting forward proposals to make our public schools places where children are nurtured and inspired and teachers have long and productive careers. We have been playing defense so long that it is time to switch to offense. Here are some of my proposals for programs to make public education more vital
1. Radically cut testing budgets and make sure that every school from K-12 has excellent sports and arts programs.
2. Make recess an integral part of every school day and make sure every child has access to physical education
3. Put charter schools under strict regulation and make it impossible for them to discriminate against ELL and Special Needs students or to push students who don't test well into the local public schools.
4. Make school based agriculture an integral part of the school curriculum, both to help teach science and encourage healthy eating.
5. End the requirement that all students get Regents diplomas and create multiple pathways to graduation.
6. Invest in vocational and technical education so that students who want them have career paths that do not require college education.
7. End once and for any state support for the Common Core Curriculum and take all test creation out of the hands of private companies.
8. Allow schools to apply for complete exemption from all state testing and use portfolio evaluations if parents, teachers and students want to try this pedagogical model

The following additions were proposed by S.E. Anderson

9.   Transform the K-12 curriculum to reflect the cultural and national diversity of knowledge (i.e. infuse thruout Latino/Asian/African centered curricula and pedagogy).
10.  Start a recruitment and retention campaign to transform the mainly white teaching staff to be in parity with the demographic reality of NY State's children. This would include an in-school K-12 campaign to encourage children to become educators via a tutition free college experience.

11.   Structure in direct parental and student involvement in the decision-making processes of schools, districts and regions.