What's right?

Voice Card  -  Volume 27  -  Larry Card Number 16  -  Wed, Jan 27, 1993 10:52 PM

This is ONE OF 4 responses to VC 26 John 7 ("Interesting Speech")...

What's right with education? A lot of things. But instead of me getting into a lot of detail about any one issue, let me briefly describe a few that are on the top of my list. If anyone wants to discuss any issue in further detail, let's do it. Likewise, I would welcome the views of all Archipelagonians on public education today. It is an issue very dear to my heart, and, as far as I am concerned, makes very interesting discussions.

What's right (Gospel according to Larry)

(1) Site-based management. More and more districts are decentralizing administration of individual schools or pods of schools. More authority is given to site principals and teachers, and local parent committees. Site-based management has become almost a necessity in large districts like Los Angeles Unified and the Chicago Public Schools.

(2) Year-round schools. Eliminating the 2- to 3-month summer vacation and having students go to school 3 months on and 1 month off. The long summer break disrupts learning. Children have to start over every fall. Besides, the summer vacation is very outdated - originally designed to allow kids to help harvest the crops.

(3) Thematic instruction. Organizing curriculum around concepts rather than subjects. Thus, instead of math teachers doing their own thing, science teachers doing their own thing, etc., all teachers develop lesson plans around a single concept, for example, the environment. Science could look at the chemicals in pollutants, or weather changes as a result of pollution. Social studies may look at the history of pollution or its effects on growth, industry, etc. Literature or reading classes would use materials with these same concepts, as would math, etc. The point is to let students see that all aspects of education relate to one another and to something in the real world.

(4) Schools as complete children services centers. Many schools are becoming more than simply classrooms. Head Start programs are being placed in schools, as are health clinics, parent education classes, daycare centers, other social welfare programs. The purpose is twofold.

First, our children and their families require basic needs to be meet before they are capable of learning. They need to have their health concerns addressed, the violence in their homes dealt with, the parents knowledgeable and involved. Second, the school serves as a central social agency for the child (and the family). This helps to to coordinate and avoid duplication of the myriad of services that exist.

And (5), speaking of Head Start, the focus that is being put on serving the needs of families of Head Start students, and the willingness of the federal government to increase funding to Head Start. Maybe, in our lifetime, all students who are eligible for Head Start will receive the services.

Again, I welcome all comments and questions regarding education. I think it would make for fascinating dialogue. Let's hear all of your opinions.