What We Need To Do About Our Schools
By Junius Smith
Each time I go to a meeting on how to change education, I cringe when the speaker explains the problem as one that requires a new type of financing or that competition will fix the problem. School choice is just another method of financing. Vouchers taken by themselves are another form of financing, but vouchers plus a change in the process of education will work, and I have made it work before.
I'm going to lay out a plan for education in this brief document that will work, and will be strictly for the children’s improvement of performance and the teachers’ satisfaction in accomplishment.
Labor unions will object for their goal is jobs and benefits and has little to do with with the education of the children.
School boards will object because they will lose a certain amount of control.
The South Carolina General Assembly will object - they will lose most of the control they now have; as there will be no state mandated programs.
* The money collected for education; the sales tax money, the lottery income (which, if left to me, would be done away with), and Federal government subsidies would be optional to those schools that wanted to be controlled by the Feds.
Some home schoolers would initially object because they don’t want any governmental interference. Although, with my plan, there would be no interference until pre-graduation exams. The exams would be prepared by the teachers that taught the concepts (including home schoolers), and a review book written by those same teachers. If warranted, intermittent exams could be used at other points for the sake of determining the teacher’s, team’s, and student’s progress.
The design of the process is as follows:
• Immediate emphasis would be placed on elementary education with class sizes cut to no more than 10;
- Extra teachers would come from the 9th grades & up (explanation later);
• Grade levels would be abandoned / Concept completion takes its place;
- Concept completion would be certified by the teachers;
- Teacher evaluation would be based on the success of students in the next core of concepts;
- Concept completion would be based on scores of 90-100
- Social promotion would end.
Under this concept, probably by what we now call the 4th grade - class size should expand to 15-20 depending on what the team leader feels is appropriate. At this point, this system will be producing all students that are successful.
• By what we now call the 5th grade, teaching by computer or virtual presenter will occur on non- mathematical courses.
- Students will work by themselves on many subjects.
- Variation will be eliminated between teachers.
- Some students will even be able to work from home or satellite schools via the internet.
- Students will progress at their own speed in the virtual courses.
- Many will complete the required academics before 12 years have passed.
• In the virtual class, mathematical courses will begin in the 9th grade. (already done in South Carolina).
- Labs and sports will be held at some central location.
• Disruption of any type will not be permitted.
Quite frankly, in the 25,000+ that I taught using this method, I only had one student to cause a problem, but the students felt a high degree of confidence after they learned that fear was not a motivating factor.
• Teaching teams would be organized and would include all subjects, concepts, and virtual classes.
- A student would work through the same team.
- That team would be responsible for that child’s education from the beginning to the end.
- Team leaders would be chosen from the most creative, conceptionally adequate, and managerially sound persons.
• Dropout rates should decline immensely as the team would be responsible and paid according to their success rate.
Where did these ideas come from?
From home schooling parents, from teaching 25,000+ students myself, and personal observation of many public and private school classrooms.
What was accomplished using these methods?
People who were classified as functionally illiterate learned statistics went on to graduate from high school and college. Some were able to tell the management of companies how to improve their process. Others overcame their fear of education and developed life-long enjoyment of learning.
I started each class with my prayers.
This can be done if you add vouchers for every student.
My proposal is for the General Assembly of the State Of South Carolina to take all the money collected for education and divide by the number of students in the state and issue them a voucher that would follow them to what ever school their family chose.
We have tried to smear money on top of the old methods, and with the number of students in the process, it is impossible to make significant progress. Unions and government are the problem. Teachers with non creative attitudes are hurting many students, and those teachers with sound ideas are being frustrated by a system that is designed only to provide jobs, benefits, and extremely poor results.
We need not cite the current result here; as that can come later if nothing continues to be done.