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Monday, April 21, 2014

Competition for America's First Ambassador of Education!!

CONGRATULATIONS!!! 
You have been selected as a candidate to become the very TOP person in education!!  If selected you will be given the title of the United States of America's first Ambassador of Education!!  With this new title, comes a TREMENDOUS task and not to mention a TON of responsibility.

Here's the scenario:
Last week it was announced that despite the attempted changes in the American educational system, the US has dropped to 40th place in education throughout the developed world.  Schools are in shambles and progress is at an all time stand-still.  Nothing seems to be working!  So, the United States Congress went on a head-hunting world tour to find someone to head up the nation's educational system and even changed laws so that the newly selected Ambassador of Education would be allowed to implement ANY changes in the American educational system that he/she felt was absolutely necessary to get us back on track (pending Congressional approval).  Congress and even state governors have vowed that they are willing to do whatever it takes to get our schools back to the point of being at least in the top 10 of the world - if not the very top.  This job is going to demand that you "think out of the box" and come up with ideas that you believe are doable.

SO HOW DO YOU GET THE JOB???
Your task is to come up with FIVE key starting points / changes that you feel are ABSOLUTELY a must to begin putting America's educational system back on track.  You need to list the FIVE key things that you want Congress to push through and present them before the states.  List the FIVE changes with a brief description of why  you think they are ABSOLUTELY needed. Make sure your descriptions are clear and precise (to the point) and be prepared to answer questions that "members of Congress" (those responding to your proposals) may have for you.  In other words, be able to defend your plan!!

Those of you commenting on each other's post, are considered the "Members of Congress."  Your job is to pick through the various plans being proposed and really look them over.  Be critical!!!  If something isn't done, America's future is in serious jeopardy!!!  As it was once said, "The future of ANY country on this planet earth lies within it's educated mass!  A failure there, spells the doom of the country."

Once this blog is completed we'll be taking a vote in class which plans to adopt!!!

63 comments:

  1. 1. Eliminate property tax-based public education. Instead, distribute state aid to school districts and schools with the greatest needs.
    Currently, schools are funded based on how high local property taxes are. The more affluent an area, the higher the property tax, and the higher the funding for the local school, creating an alarming gap between rich and poor school districts. Many suburban taxpayers support this with the argument that it would be unfair to take their tax dollars and send them to students outside of the county. If a county isn't willing to pay top dollar for their schools, they shouldn't expect another county to do so for them. The underlying flaw with this is that taxpayers in poor areas aren't necessarily unwilling to pay, it's that they don't have the money that their richer counterparts do.

    2. Introduce properly trained, highly qualified, well-paid teachers into the education system. Standardize teacher education across the US by implementing one academically rigorous, high quality teacher-preparation program.
    Teacher quality in the US varies widely, with more than 1500 different teacher-prep programs. In contrast, Singapore and Finland offer only one standardized, rigorous program. They allow only the best and brightest to proceed into teaching, requiring that they get a masters' degree, and exhibit high proficiency in pedagogy. Teaching is regarded as an esteemed, well-paid profession. Teacher evaluations are also unheard of in those countries; since they've undergone demanding training, high quality is expected from each one. By raising the teaching standards in the US, people who show inefficiency in teaching are removed from the equation. Controversy over teacher assessments are eliminated (money normally spent in assessing can be used elsewhere). Reversing the unfortunate American belief that teaching is regarded with little value will take time, but it must start now.

    3. Everyone is in charge, therefore no one is in charge. Education is or should be a very local problem. Allow freedom of curriculum with support from administration.
    We have had politicians making the rules for what teachers can teach in the classroom. We also have private companies profiting greatly from the education system, many of whom frankly care little for advancing education. There are inflexible curricula in place that just cannot apply to all. Obviously, there should be a 'master plan' where students at certain levels are expected to learn so-and-so by the end of the year. However, let the teachers make their own lesson plans and let administrators administrate. Allowing flexibility to their teaching gives them the ability to adapt to local problems only they face.

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    1. (Split up since it wouldn't fit)

      4. Place less emphasis on data mining and testing.
      The US student generation now has had far more tests than before, yet we continue to drop places in terms of education quality. Finland, who is consistently one of the highest in education, only administers one national test at the end of high school. Tests don't tell us anything useful about teaching methods use and how well they're implemented. Forcing students to take multiple state and national tests every year encourages 'teaching by the test', wasting time and money. The billion dollar testing industry is also notorious for making costly and time-consuming scoring errors. Plus, it judges the quality of teachers by counting their students’ measured achievement, which is inaccurate and unfair. Variations in students' test scores depend on many out-of-our-control factors such as his willingness to take it seriously.

      5. Encourage cutting back on sports (funding) and focusing instead on academics. It's interesting to note that the most glamorous thing you see in US school hallways are sports trophies (there are almost no academic ones except perhaps a list of high honor students), and we often cut time in class to 'celebrate' sports teams during pep rallies. A study done by an international exchange organization called AFS found out that nine out of ten foreign exchange students who had lived in the U.S. said that kids here cared more about sports than their peers back home did. (As a kid who's grown up in a foreign education system, I can attest to this). Most confirmed that the focus in their home school was academics; while they did play sports, it had almost never been a bigger focus than their academics. In sharp contrast is the US, where there seems to be a disturbing obsession with sports programs (Note that the highest paid employee in the majority of states, including NJ, is a coach). Sports isn't bad, but investing heavily into sports programs instead of education is ridiculous. Sports is driving away the focus (and the budget) of many schools from academics.

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    2. #5 is something that I would definitely agree to, but the only problem appears to be that this change would be so drastic since sports have taken such heavy occupation in school life in U.S. Most of the students you see that are staying after school are attending sports, rather than extra help or other academic workshops. The reason for many to not do their homework is because of practice until very late at night or extraordinary tiredness due to practice. Sports have become so interwoven with academic life that to de-emphasize sports seem to infuriate not only students, but also parents and coaches.

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    3. I'm not saying sports should be banned, simply placed below academics priority-wise.

      Sports taking such a heavy occupation in US schools is precisely why it should be cut back. There is a tug-of-war between sports and academics, with academics losing badly. Recent trends at Division I colleges reveal that Athletic departments spend far more per athlete than institutions spend to educate the average student (3-6x as much)- the median college athletic spending in 2010 was $92,000 compared to median academic spending of $14,000 on a full-time student. It's even worse in District II and District III colleges. The cost to maintain sports programs in high schools are also staggering.

      It ultimately benefits the students to scale back on sports programs, especially when the school experiences budget cuts. Premont Independent School District in Texas, for example, received large press attention when it announced that it would suspend sports for a year (saving $150,000 in the process), in face of threats to shut down the school district for financial mismanagement and academic failures. While some students transferred to other schools so they could continue playing sports, the incline in academics showed it was worth it: the fall after the suspension, 80% of students passed their classes compared to 50% when they still had numerous sports programs. Now they've allowed some sports back but only if the students performed well. Other schools from states like Florida and Illinois have done the same.

      If and when people do get infuriated when sports are deemphasized, their reaction simply proves my point. The pervading culture in the US places too little value in schooling (in both high school and college), yet we wonder why the quality of US education continues to decline .

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    4. Hannah i also agree with #5. Sports should not be fully eliminated but there should be less of an emphasis on them. students need to be more focused on subjects such as mathematics and science since they are of more importance.

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    5. I do agree with you that our society does put a rather larger emphasis on sports programs, and I feel that we should put more funding into academics than athletics. However, they are a very important part of our lifestyle, and they can't be wholly eliminated. Also, I remember our principal, Dr. Bob, say that athletes actually have a better blood flow to their brain when they exercise. It is therefore possible that a good balance between sports and academics could actually help a student's academic studies, which is why they can't be cut down to a large extent.

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    6. Brandon, nowhere in my posts did I say that sports should be wholly eliminated, simply placed below academics priority-wise.

      I know that sports and exercise in general is fantastic for you. It's also hard to imagine a school with little to no sports programs. Again, more often than not, this cut won't mean completely eliminating sports, just reallocating some funds and efforts to academics. But as much as they are part of our lifestyle, if it really starts dragging a school's academics down (which we both agree is the more important of the two) like it did at Premont, it must be cut by however much is necessary. It's a case by case basis.

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    7. Hannah Fay,
      Number 5 is so right! It's almost as if the athletes in the school get more recognition than students in AP classes. It's sad because I know some athletes that think they could get away with not doing work because they play a sport. I understand that a sport takes up a lot of time, but it's no excuse to have others do your work for you. Athletes are praised like celebrities in schools and it's unfair to many individuals that don't play sport. Eliminating the constant glamorizing of sports would be highly beneficial to the education system as a whole because athletes will feel that they have to do something related to school work.

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  2. 1. More educational investments to education related professions: American teachers spend on average 1,080 hours teaching each year while their salaries appear low. A teacher with 15 years of experience makes a salary that is 96 percent of the country’s GDP per capita, comparing to Korea where one of similar level makes a full 221 percent of the country’s GDP per capita. The gradual fading of respect towards the teaching profession can be reflected through Middletown teachers' strike in NJ, 2001, in which the striking teachers declared the affair “has more to do with dignity than dollars.” One particularly mentioned the poor treatment of the Board of Education and the “lack of support for teachers in our community.”

    2. Resist corporate globalization: Robert Reich, the United States Secretary of Labor under Clinton’s administration, points out that the globalization encourages large enterprises to occupy an absolute upper hand in bargaining with the local government. Local governments compete to exempt taxes for those enterprises, resulting in local fiscal deficit. The World Bank data shows that the U.S.’s public expenditure on education as % of GDP has dropped to 5.4 by 2010. The incapability to fund the educational system adequately leads to even more shortages of teacher’s salaries. Without decent salaries, there wouldn’t be any appeal to promote the talented into participation.

    3. More publicized promotions to abate anti-intellectualism: Anti-intellectualism seems to be integrated into American culture, especially in K-12. It’s more preferable to be a cool kid with wild or individualistic personalities rather than a nerd sitting alone with a book at hands. This social phenomenon under peer pressure causes these rare academic intellectuals to be secluded in schools and in life. Many may eventually abandon their original nerdy behavior to follow the lead of the cool kids’ gang. Ultimately it creates a long-term decay of the educational atmosphere. By having more and frequent open promotions (such as posters, videos, lectures, competitions) to motivate intellectualism, an aspiration to become academically intelligent can be slowly restored.

    4. Cut down cumulative tests, and use these resources to develop more problem sets for all subjects: I would use education in China as an example, we have a tactical approach of learning called “exercises-stuffed teaching method” (there’s no official translation for this term) Taking this literally, the goal is to exercise all kinds of problems one can possibly expect within a designated topic. This works most efficiently for math in which we have city unified practice question sets. Even though they would be considered dry and tiresome, but creative learning can’t do all the work for you – in the end one needs to practice more in order to become proficient.

    5. Utilize technology resources, open online courses: These courses can either be free or charging, voluntary or mandatory required by each school. MOOC, Massive open online course, neither charge the students nor give credits, but grant certificates as a proof that you’ve passed a certain course. Thus far, Youtube occurs to me as a powerful learning engine since you can find all kinds of tutorials of things you don’t fully comprehend at school. And it’s all free. In a larger sense, this not only gives students more chances to learn the materials, also solves the tuition problem to those lower or middle-class families.

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    1. I like how you brought up YouTube as a good source of education. In this day and age, technology is a very powerful tool, but not many teachers I know of use it to enhance their teaching program. However, in terms of your feeling that we should try to discourage anti-intellectualism, I don't feel that lectures and posters will be able to do the job. For instance, due to the already present anti-intellectualism, many will probably not care about these methods, and some have already been used.

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    2. I generally agree with your propositions except for what Brandon pointed out. I don't believe posters and lectures to motivate intellectualism will be effective, especially considering the peculiar culture of the US. Competitions might work but the danger there is that those who already possess a spirit of intellectualism (the competitive top of the school, etc.) will dominate these contests. Those from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds or mediocre schools are also less likely to join these competitions in the first place.

      Barring the unfortunate reality that not all students yet will be able to have access to this, technology presents a huge potential in terms of education that we must fully exploit. Greater promotion of MOOC also seems to be a good solution to those who work and can't attend regular school hours. As t your other points, I agree that they are also crucial measures we must take if we want the US education system to rise up.

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    3. Brandon & Hannah - so targeting on anti-intellectualism, posters and lectures are some examples of the lenient approaches. Competitions may be dominated by these already-intelligent ones, as Hannah points out, but this is not totally the case. These competitions (esp. if there are a lot of students participating in them) would raise the overall "morale" if you so call it. They might become our discussion topics for a while, e.g. spelling bees. These less-intelligent ones would be motivated by their natural ambitions to join the race. And I wouldn't agree that "those from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds or mediocre schools are also less likely to join these competitions in the first place", because apparently there's financial subsidy or scholarship going around all the time. It's the same thing as you go to a college, the whatever institution wouldn't decline someone who's truly talented and ambitious just because s/he can't afford it - as far as I know.
      There're hundreds of thousands of ways to implement this ideology of intellectualism, the most entertaining one that I can think of right now is probably through social media - videos/films/shows. Such as the Big Bang Theory which contains tons of scientific knowledge, Crashcourse, and other nerdy stuff. If the education department sponsors designated movie company or other creators to produce entertaining school-related subjects in a creative manner, I believe that one day intellectualism would be viewed with less prejudice but more fascination.

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    4. #4 I AGREE WITH!! after talking about three benchmarks today i can not agree any more. The school are over powering us with tests to measure our knowledge, however, i believe that is not the only method that should be used. Not all students are the best test takers. there should be a measure on how we actually apply our knowledge in the era world, since that is the true goal of education.

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    5. Carrie, number 5 is onei agree with. I feel we should better utilize what we have around us in order to expand our learning. Honestly the programs and softwares designed now to help us learn is crazy. Its even crazier that we hardly use it. For instance, we should not carry books. In South Jersey, ipads are given to students, and there books, homework assignments and projects are all done. It is a convinent, back saving, and effective method all schools should incorporate.

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  3. 1- Better teachers
    A better staff of teachers is required for students to prosper and achieve. We need teachers that have the disciple and motivation to help drive each student towards success. The teachers must demand rigorous work with the most efficient curriculum. According to NYTimes, “professionalizing the teacher corps and raising its value in society” such as Finland demonstrates much better results.
    Discipline is what truly encourages a student towards accomplishing their goals. This does not just involve the teachers, but parents as well. Children should be well disciplined from home that would make school experience easier, leading to better focus. Also, the students need to realize that their future relies on this education.

    2- Fewer and better standardized test
    Standardized test should not be fully removed, however they should be minimized. Nowadays students take a standardized test almost each marking period. Not all students are the best test takers and measuring someone’s ability using this measure is not fully accurate. Other things should be taken into consideration such as how the student does in class, or applies his/her knowledge in real life. True, standardized test can easily measure somewhat od a students ability, but the problem is that that is the only measure we are basing a student off of.

    3- Emphasis on education’s connection to the real world
    Academics has a relation to leadership. In various school environments, students are told to just know something. They are not told how or why the information is beneficial in real life. According to a study done at Carnegie Mellon University, “Students are more likely to exert effort in a course if they anticipate an eventual payoff in terms of their future professional lives.” This decreases a student’s motivation since they start to believe what they are learning is not that important.
    Furthermore I have also witnessed this. Various times a student would as the question “why” or “how” and the teacher would simply reply “oh, you don’t need to know that for the test” if this information was given the student would be intrigues to further understand the topic and use the absorbed information.

    4- Creating a higher goal
    Multiple high performing countries teach one level above the grade level. Yes this does create pressure on the student, however this force is needed. Students often are taught to approach a subject in just one way, however providing various strategies will allow the students to engage in which better suits them. According to a study done at Carnegie Mellon University, different strategies to get a student involved include, clearly articulate learning goals, highlight real world applications and to allow students some degree of choices.

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    1. Enhancing education through technology
      Technology has reached new heights and we are now able to do almost anything by a click of a button. We should take advantage of this opportunity. There are so many online resources to almost anything that a student has access to. Archived information on "Effects of Technolgoy on Classroom and Students" states, "Technology use allows many more students to be actively thinking about information, making choices, and executing skills than is typical in teacher-led lessons" By creating an emphasis on this we are creating less pressure for teachers, however a teachers aid is still needed. Web seminars, educational games e-books etc. enhance students learning ability.

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    2. Pro #3! The best way to learn, I believe, is through making connections. It's also the best way to memorize things. I personally prefer real-life math problems to the trivial formula-regurgitation, and the reason is that the former is more realistic and practical. Last year in Mrs. Reg's Trig class, she always made connections before starting to teach the materials - when we were learning about exponential growth/decay she would tell us how this is applied in medicine field. And that makes me remember the whole concept even after a year.
      Perhaps just show us a short video clip or just tell us briefly about the subject's application in the real world - that would suffice to make the whole topic appealing. Unfortunately many teachers don't usually do that, and that's what oftentimes makes the 56-minute class endless and tiresome.

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    3. I agree on many of your points Iqra, including how we should try and push the students' limits to better strengthen their minds, and pressure them into success. However, I am confused by your point about technology. When you say that "a teacher aid is still needed" are you suggesting that technology makes a teacher less needed? If this was your point, it contradicts your first point about needing better trained teachers. If you advocate that technology can do most of a teacher's job, why need smarter teachers?

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    4. Brandon, i knew that point would confuse someone! it was hard to put into words. basically i am trying to say that the educational process should not be fully controlled by technology to a point wear teachers are no longer needed. technology should be used as a resource but not too extensively.

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    5. #4. I agree that "creating a higher goal" or challenging a student could help push us into the right direction; however, if the student isn't grasping certain concepts or is struggling to keep up, the student AND teacher must take the extra time out of their day to help get back on track. It has to be a two-way thing or the student could fall even father behind than if s/he was in a lower class. That could make America look worse.

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    6. Although I do agree with your first change (better teachers), I feel that students are the ones that are most responsible for their end result in a class room. Yes, a teacher needs to be present to teach and assist with the material, but if a student is not dedicated and doesn't really care much, then the student won't succeed. Yes, teachers need to be better with reaching the curriculum, but students need to have more respect and passion when it comes to learning something new. After all- if a student doesn't want to do something, no one can force them to. That needs to change.

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    7. Iqra,
      I definitely have to agree with #3. Real world applications are absolutely vital, especially in the modern age today. These applications are what makes a better person overall and a more well rounded person. Real world applications could also give students a sense of what they are learning in a new perspective which may even help them grasp the concept of what they are learning even more as well.

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    8. Although fewer and better standardized tests seems like a wonderful idea for us, it might not be in the long run, in Ireland we only really have two major test, the latter of which is composed of everything you learned from 1st year up to 6th. It just leads to a lack of interest as the future always seems so much farther away then it really is, so fewer people consistently study because there is no immediate need to leading to a huge decline in your score in the Leaving Cert.

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    9. honestly, yours is the only one besides mine that i agree with 100%. i don't want this love fest going on so all i have to say is that is kinda easy for the students. you need to give them some short of push to get them motived to get good grades and to get smarter.

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  4. 1. A strict grades quota
    If students are to be pushed to get better grades, we need to make them feel they need to get them. The best way to do that is to set a level that students must meet in order to be considered successful. If they fall behind, even by a few points, they will have to be put in much stricter classes that will greatly improve their understanding of the topics they are learning. By this, I mean set the bar at a higher level that officially failing, so that they can be assisted before their performance drops too low.
    2.Technology
    Technology is a powerful tool. It is often more fun to work with than a textbook, and as such students (who often already use technology on a daily basis) will find classes much more interesting. Also, videos that talk about a subject can be both easier to follow than a lecture, and more interesting and engaging, thus improving class performance.
    3. More and more practice
    This is essential for students getting the hang of a subject. The American education system teaches its students more about applying knowledge to different situations, while the Chinese education system, for instance, focuses more on constant repetition of problems. A combination of these tactics, which would be half vigorous memorization and repetition of essential topics, and half applying the knowledge to every possible situation, will greatly increase a student's fluency with a topic, which will boost grades.
    4. Tougher training for teachers
    Teachers, in many countries, are socially ranked with doctors and lawyers, considering that they are the ones that provide their country with a properly educated populous. As such, we need to make sure our teachers are very well trained in their respective topics. Finland (as Hannah said), often ranked as having one of the top education programs in the world, requires that all teachers have a master's degree. Since the U.S. has a much larger population than Finland, this might be somewhat unreasonable, but all teachers should at least have a proper college education of at least four years if they want to be entrusted with the brains of the future.
    5. Reducing the amount of standardized tests
    This is one that many students have brought up. Not all students are good test takers, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't smart. Hannah brought up that Finland only has one standardized test at the end of the year, and is always among the top countries in terms of education. If we focus too much on test prep, and not on the actual information in general, we could end up focusing too much on the students that actually know the material. Also, if a student works very hard in school, but just has a "brain fart" moment when he or she takes a test, it could discourage him or her by making him or her feel stupid. This lack of self-esteem and enthusiasm is exactly what America's education system DOESN'T need.

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    1. I feel Brandon you have brought up all the main points. I want to add one more by-product of overwhelming standardized tests - not only is there a lack of self-esteem and enthusiasm, there's also FURY like my attitude right now regarding the English Benchmark today after being tortured over and over again with the same set of questions that all I can extract from it is futility. Why does school life have to be turned into a round of double jeopardy? The only and the most effective way to see someone's progress is through daily accumulation - not having a "gamble" at the end. As you mention - are we not going to tolerate "brain fart" moments since everyone would make mistakes?

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    2. I agree that the ease with which we can potentially fail these high-stakes, standardized tests are also part of what makes them so infuriating, other than the sheer number we must plow through every year. You could easily get sick, be tired, or simply have a "brain fart" during these tests and it makes such a huge impact, which is why they put so much pressure on students in the first place.

      I am slightly confused by your first point, however. If the student is already failing his class, wouldn't putting him in a far stricter one only lower his grades? I'd like some clarification as to how your first point works.

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    3. #1-DISCIPLINE!! In today's school system we have a lack of disciple when compared to other countered. This includes the teachers and parents pushing students to achieve the best. Yes, the student needs to be self-motivated as well, but a teacher or parent can help he student come to this realization.

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    4. I don't understand why standardized tests are such a big deal. Its just another test to see if a student has met a certain standard. It attempts to check a students progression through the years. Yes, some students aren't good test takers, but they still have the potential to get better at it. Honestly, i feel like students worry themselves too much which in turn leads them to "poor" test taking.

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    5. I agree with your last point. Some standardized tests make a student feel almost like they don't know the material they've been working all year to understand. I mean, a student could work their butts off all year, but if they have a moment on the day of the test, all the hard work sort of goes to waste in a sense. I just think that the status of a student should not depend on standardized testing, but on their overall performance throughout the school year.

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    6. I agree with most of your points, Brandon, but I feel you need to elaborate further when you mention technology. There are many aspects of technology that can be further implemented in schools, such as more availability, more programs, learning coding etc. I also believe that you stated an opinion as fact by stating that "technology is more fun than textbooks". You cannot assume that this is true, therefore the point is mute.

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    7. A stricter grades quota? Schools in this country already send out deficiencies as soon as you begin to slack off. They are constantly keeping an eye on your grade anything more would be unpractical. Force those who are unable to cope into a stricter class regime? You have to remember that everyone is not as intelligent as you, if you force those who are already unable to cope into stricter regime you will completely break them. You will turn the education system into a survival of the smartest, leaving the rest in dust.

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    8. Practice is key!! I feel more students could achieve amazing heights if they only practice what has been preached! I for one can personally speak for that... Kids are smart, they just dont harvest it and are lazy. If we teach them not to be lazy, then we could produce a more successful society of students.

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    9. standardized test are just a test, with the way they are going now, it shouldn't be on your list. they are already being lowered so their is no purpose of having them up their, with the lowered score they should have a lowered stress rate as well (since most worry about getting a good score)

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  5. 1. Respect & Discipline
    -Day to day, in the classroom, students disrespect the teacher that is there teaching them information they need to improve their future. There's the constant chatter, use of phones, chewing gum, talking back, and more. It's almost as if students in school have lost the true meaning of the word respect. Ways to prevent this behavior lies with the adults of the school, as well as the students. Ways the adults can help is by understanding what is happening in a child's life. Become more involved with their personal settings and attempt to help a child with self issues. Also, teachers need to enforce the rules a bit more. Stricter rules may put an end to the lack of discipline and respect in a classroom. Putting a stop to this can enhance the education system in the United States.
    2. Students need to become more serious with classes.
    -So many students nowadays take classes that they don't take seriously. Students take classes such as cooking or chorus as classes that don't count. These classes are something many students take just to fill their classes and associate with friends. This lack of seriousness is really creating a problem with America's education system. School isn't supposed to be a time to mingle and chat with friends. It should be a time where the student learns something new. Each day, students should learn something that will enhance their future.
    3. Education should be based on knowledge and not on your report card grade.
    -Grades are most definitely crucial in a student's career, as well as beneficial to the reputation of a school. Sure, getting an A on a report card is always a good thing. Studying the night away is beneficial to a person's future. But, what does memorizing and getting the 100 do if you're not truly learning anything? All the time, people receive great grades on tests without truly learning anything at all. Memorizing information will do nothing for a student or the school they come from in the long run. When a student gets into a magnificent college because of their grades and doesn't remember anything they memorized in their 12th grade science class, it becomes a problem. Schools need to focus more on truly educating the student rather than helping the student get a good grade on their report card. True education will never be achieved if a student doesn't build knowledge.

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    2. 4. Provide all students with one study hall class.
      -Athletes that take easy classes have the opportunity to opt out of gym, but students that take AP classes and involve themselves in extracurricular activities can't? Trust me, I'm all for fitness and being healthy, but students that take hard classes should receive the opportunity to be able to take one study hall class in their schedule. I'm not saying that students should miss gym because they shouldn't, but allowing AP kids to take a study hall class will be extremely beneficial to the student. Rather than pulling all nighters studying and finishing homework, a study hall class would help the student actually get sleep at night. Sometimes, an extra hour is all a student needs to boost their grade in a certain class they are struggling with. With all the extracurricular activities, sports, and classes students are involved in, a simple study hall class squeezed into a schedule wouldn't do much harm.
      5. Shift focus away from standardized testing.
      -Standardized testing causes stress in a student's life that can really place a burden on them. As Brandon mentioned above, not many people are great test takers. Many people freeze, and others forget everything they studied for. This is not because a student is quote on quote "dumb"; it simply means that the student is not a good test taker. Basing their career and grades off of a standardized test is simply unfair. School systems should focus more on the classroom aspects of a student's education, such as the way a student participates in class discussions, or how well a student comprehends subjects, or if a student completes their homework. Standardized testing doesn't distinguish a good student from a bad student. Testing only takes away from a student's ability to experience real life situations and communications.

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    3. #4. i can't really fathom why we would provide all students with a study hall class. The students who took decided to do extracurricular activities know that it will take much of their time and should know how to balance it all out. I feel the academics should be the main focus for students and that schools shouldn't have to accommodate for anything EXTRA.

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    4. I understand what you mean, but it's not even the extra activities. I'm also referring to the work assigned in all 8 classes we have. Sometimes, having a study hall class will guarantee that all work for every class will be done, no matter what. It eliminated some stress.

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    5. I find it hard to put less emphasis on grades and more emphasis on knowledge simply because it seems counter-intuitive. One cannot simply judge the amount of "knowledge" a person has gained; knowledge is an abstract concept which differs from person to person in terms of connotation. The only way to judge the amount of "knowledge" a student has learned is to give a test.

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    6. Fedah,
      You pointed out a major issue with the education system. #1, the concept of disrespect is a major issue these days. Students are beginning to disrespect teachers more and more often, which is sad. How could a student learn when they don't respect who's teaching them? Eliminating this disrespect sounds great on paper, but it would be very difficult to implement.

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    7. I think #1 is a fantastic idea. In the end, even if we had the best teachers or technologies or curricula, it's no use if the student doesn't care. We as a whole must start changing the student perspective not just on teachers, but on education in general. The US has acquired a culture that belittles education and under-appreciates the ones who teach the future generations.
      As for #4, it's also a potentially fruitful endeavour, but if it was implemented, we must make sure that only those who truly need it can have access to it. It'd certainly be a lifesaver to those who have numerous AP/honor classes.

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    8. Guys I am not so sure about the disrespect part, because if a teacher really wants your attention they will get it over here, people do respect the teachers, that being said there will always be a few bad apples in the basket, that's just the way it is, but getting to strict would take away any enthusiasm that there already is for learning.

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    9. For all the replies on #1: disrespect is a MAJOR issue in school, whether you've seen it or not. Day to day, I constantly see people on their phones in front of teachers. I see other people talking back to their teachers. I see people not listen to the teacher simply because "they're not their parents." Believe it or not, when you're in school, the teacher is just as responsible for you as your parents. The least we could do is treat them with respect. Secondly, I'm not saying that getting rid of disrespect is going to be easy, because it isn't. Neither are half of the suggestions listed on this blog. What I'm saying is that we attempt to put a stop to it or bring it to a minimum. As Rob said, there are always going to be a couple of rotten apples, but minimizing the amount of disrespect would be extremely useful in the long run.

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    10. As for the whole "knowledge before grades," I think you misunderstood what I was saying. When I said that, I meant that although grades are important, teachers shouldn't only care about who has the highest GPA in the class. While in class, teachers should focus on who catches on quicker and who understands certain subjects better. Grades aren't everything sometimes. Memorizing will do nothing for a student. My suggestion wasn't directed toward the teacher but more towards the student. Students change change the way they think. Rather than caring about getting the 100, students should care about learning and understanding the material. And teachers shouldn't pressure students to get the highest grade just so that they can "keep their job." It's not right.

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  6. There are many problems with the current education system in place in the United States, and with experience with other school systems that seem to be more effective than the US education, I wholeheartedly agree with several changes to the education system:
    1. Put Less Stress on Athletics and More Stress on Academics- This is one of the major differences I have personally seen in other education systems. In some countries, such as India and China, education and good academics are stressed upon a student to the point of insanity. However, this system yields great results. With more emphasis on academics by creating more competition between students, students will naturally view academics as an important thing to work as hard on as athletics. Academics should feel as competitive as athletics, and this competitive fire between students is lacking heavily from American school systems. A start to this idea may be to post every student's grades for every test, so that the entire student body could know one's accomplishments on a test. On the other hand, shame is a great motivator, and someone who consistently scores lower on tests may be motivated to climb the academic ladder.
    2. Requirement to Learn Advanced Coding to Graduate High School- Coding for computers is rapidly becoming an essential skill that all students should have a proficiency in to graduate. As modern technology increases, the need to learn what makes computers and other technologies actually work is becoming a vital skill in any workplace, making it essential for students to know how to code,at the very least html, at a young age. Not only does coding help with the future of the workplace, it teaches people about logical procedures, something that is somewhat lacking in today's youth.
    3. Eliminate Class Participation Grades- Class participation in the classroom is one of the most vestigial parts of calculating one's grade. There are some students that may be painfully shy but pay attention in class, and there may be students that constantly do poor on tests but speak in class, and the fact that class participation will give these students a change on their numerical grade is simply foolish. There are also some teachers who do not keep track of class participation, and instead give good class participation to their favourites and bad class participation grades to the smart, but unnoticeable student. As class participation is the only grade in which most teachers simply assign a numerical value without any actual evidence to back the grade up, it should be abolished.
    4. Give Less Tests and Focus on Review for Tests- There is always that teacher that gives tests almost everyday, and it is natural for most to dislike the teacher for this. Examinations should test what a student has learned throughout a specific time period, and not by chapter. This would drastically reduce the chances of a person to be overwhelmed by test preparation every day. This would also be a better benchmark to judge the teachers by, as tests would seek how much teachers accomplished in a certain time period, and would reduce the chance of a teacher rushing to administer a test for the sake of time.
    5. Make School Days Start and End Later- It is a proven fact that students are more aware later in the day than earlier. Making schooldays start at 9 and end by 4 would make it much would increase the productivity of students, as well as effectively simulate an average work day, as most jobs do not require one to arrive at 7, but at 9. It is simply not fair for teachers to deal with groggy students arriving at 7:40, as they would naturally be more tired, which would lower productivity. Delaying the school day until 9 would give students the opportunity to be brighter and more aware in class.

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    1. no participation grades! YES!! I completely agree. Participation can not be effectively graded and there is no proof to back up the grade. Its ridiculous to grade someone on how much they contribute to the classroom, because that is unmeasurable. Teachers can always find a reason to lower your participation grade. For example, some of you got a lower grade for participating "too much"

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    2. Pranav,
      I would definitely agree with #5. Productivity is essential in any school day. An early start to the day is likely to decrease productivity and make students left with less sleep time. Being more awake, lets kids actually learn and not drag themselves through the school day, but rather embrace it and learn something. The body and brain need sleep, and it is not worth it to start the day that early just to be non-productive.

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    3. I'd just like to say that I pretty much agree with your points.
      (Current computer concepts class is a pathetic joke, it really says something about the students that we need an ENTIRE school year to learn how to use freaking Microsoft.)
      Sadly, many schools have refused to start at an earlier date because it eats up practice time/game time for their athletics programs. Again, for many, the athletic teams are more important than the well-being of the general student body.

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    4. I would like to talk about the comparison on the stress of athletics and academics. We dont encourage students to always participate in a sport, but eventually it does look good in college, and so do clubs. You are only thinking about that because many students play sports, on the other hand you don't notice the special rules that we have in order to maintain the athletes and academic standards. We have certain rules, such as maintaining a C or better in each class in order to play a sport. Although I may disagree with you on the stressing difference on both sports and academics I do believe that they should raise the standards to a 3.5 GPA or higher in order to play a sport, to make students work harder to participate in enjoyable and fun activities that are just a privilege in the end. Motivation is the key in the process that I want implement in the sports/academics category.

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    5. there is no way that students will be motivated to do computer coding. it might be a growing industry but students have to choose what they want to do, by this being enacted by you, students will have to waste a class on something that they won't want to do in their WHOLE LIFETIME!!! just my imput

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    6. Your last rule is genius. I have legitimately thought about this over and over many times a day on why this still isnt enforced. I think if this were the case, students wouldnt mind going to school as much and would have a better time focusing.

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  7. #1: Individualize student attention for maximum success
    In this country, many teachers(not specifically in this school, but rather in general) seem to lack individualized attention to students. Students seem to fall behind easily in academics because the teachers fail to individualize their lesson plans. Without individualized attention to students, many students either lose focus or track of the lesson quickly, so this must be done. Finland's top rate education system centralizes on the concept of individual success. Their education system makes sure that no student ever falls behind because their teachers focus on individuals rather than a large group of students.
    #2: Lower class sizes
    Class sizes matter a lot, quite honestly. Research shows that lowers class sizes increases student engagement in learning, while increasing teacher attention to students since there are less students in the classroom. Statistically speaking, children from low-income or minority groups benefited most from smaller class sizes so it is important for sure. In a class of 20 students for example, the teachers attention is divided between 20 students which is not very effective, compared to maybe 15 children in a class instead, which the teacher could teach with more ease, therefore getting more accomplished.
    #3: Hire teachers with innovative teaching techniques
    Innovative techniques while teaching are necessary for children to learn. These techniques offer children multiple ways of attempting a problem, which is beneficial to the children in the long run in terms of their education. There also have been teachers that have used innovative teaching techniques to increase students by 2-3 grade levels in a single school year(Dr.Bob showed a video about this in the PAC center.)Techniques like these from teachers will foster greater growth rates in students.
    #4: Increase the prestige of the teaching job by increasing pay
    Increasing the pay of teachers will naturally increase the quality of teaching, that's just a fact. The problem now is that many intelligent people would rather aim for higher paying jobs than becoming teachers because teachers don't make way too much money. Losing these intelligent people is detrimental to the education system. Many professors and teachers are still very intelligent people, but not enough are motivated to become teachers because of the issue of salary. Increasing the pay would also increase the status of how people think of teachers. Increasing pay for teachers would add prestige to teachers, as well as attract more intelligent people to become teachers.
    #5: Encourage students to take higher level classes in terms of math and sciences rather than lower level electives
    Let's start by saying that math and science progress a nation much more than something like cooking does. The school should encourage students to take a more advanced math or science class rather than filling up schedules with electives. In the school, you only have to take 3 years of math classes, which should be revised to 4 years because these subjects create an educated person and progress the nation. Electives are wonderful, but science and math are too important to skip in school. The only way to get ahead of other countries is to beat them in universal subjects like math and science.

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  8. We do not need five tangible changes to the schooling system in America. Such a ludicrous notion would do nearly nothing to improve the education system, it would be a little bit like scolding someone for driving too fast and then buying them a Ferrari. There have been arguments made that better teachers should be hired, only the very best should be allowed! But how are we to accomplish such an aim, the thing is there is not some huge untapped abundance of amazing educators just laying under a rock, waiting to be discovered and let loose in our schools. Others have said that we need more technology yet there is a touch screen Promethean Board in every class room and the school is full of computers, if this is not engaging students in the way that some believe technology will then obviously technology is not the problem. Respect is yet another aspect that is being vouched for, but that is not the problem either, compared to many and arguably most other countries students respect their teachers a lot more here, they do not get threatened and if a teacher gets serious the class will too, no matter how giddy they may have been beforehand. The problem is simply one of attitude, something that would be very hard for the government to tie restraints too and reign in. Other countries that have better education systems simply have a more engaging philosophy in regards to education. It is not just a series of day to day motions which you do only because you must but instead it is seen as a means to an end, an end that is promising and bright. Work ethic is just one ideal, for the majority of students those who work the hardest get the pay off, those who are ahead do the best in class and get the highest quiz scores. A change in society's attitude is needed not a lump sum dished out to the the Board of Education for that would be just a waste of money as at the end of the day students are not going to be any more motivated.

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    1. This is a very pessimistic view on the future of education that seems to center around the fallacy that students will never care about school, no matter what. If one changes the system, he will change the views people have about the system. Just as how giving African-American vote seemed "ludicrous" 400-odd years ago is now simply ethics, a change in the education system will ultimately yield different viewpoints.

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    2. If you would please note one occurrence in which I stated that students will never care about school. You can not unless you conjure up some false statement of your own device. I simply said that no matter what you do to the education system it will be for naught if the students themselves are unable to see school in a positive light. You centralized your whole argument around the impractical and irrational hiring of more teachers with even more specialized abilities to decrease the size of a classroom in the hope that a more individualized approach will reap better harvests. The money required to do this to a whole country, especially one the size of the United States, that is already so deeply entrenched in debt would just accelerate the decline of the economy further still.

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    3. You are only bringing up some points that people may want to "change" in the education system. You also don't realize that China, and other Asian countries have surpassed us by a huge amount. What are they doing that is better than our school system? We have to crack their code, and do everything possible to get up to that level. America is lazy, and doesn't do the work that needs to be done, so it's time to make a change, whether it's one change or enormous amount of changes. However we can't just leave it the way it is, if it's doing nothing to help students or our country succeed, and be the great nation we dream to be.

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  9. *Not in any particular order*
    1. Better Teachers.
    Good teachers are essential for good quality education.
    a. All Teachers of schools and colleges have at least master level education degrees.
    b. The selection of teachers is made from the top ten percent of graduates, and then they are trained for best level of teaching.
    c. Teachers have same protocol value like Engineers and doctors.
    d. Teachers don’t just teach to students to pass standardized tests but furthers their knowledge in much more

    2. A national grades quota
    a. Students all across America should be graded the same way and should have the same grade/letter equivalent (A+=98-100, A=94-98 etc). This should be adopted to ensure that everyone can be at the same level and make it easier to determine which students have performed better academically.

    3. Utilization of technology in learning
    a. Textbook online or on tablets rather than hardcopies will help ensure that students have access to homework and lesson from home even if they “left their books at school” or if they’re sick.
    b. Online courses and Video lectures will also help students learn missed lessons and retain what they might have misunderstood in class.
    c. Technology could also be used in creating more interactive methods of learning to engage students in academics.

    4. Compulsory education law enforced in Nationally
    a. 9 years of mandatory education
    b. It has been enacted by state and each state has different requirements.
    c. Make it uniform throughout America and increase attendance
    d. http://statelaws.findlaw.com/maryland-law/maryland-compulsory-education-laws.html.

    5. More focus on academics rather than sports or extracurricular
    a. Colleges have certain prerequisites and criteria needed to get admission and it should not just based on sports or extracurricular. Maintaining an average to keep up with standards should be required and colleges shouldn’t give special treatment to people who excel in other things instead of academics
    b. Academic study should be encouraged rather than sports because the chances of getting a sports-related job are slim.

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    1. I liked your third point when you discuss the valid argument about more technology classes, especially in today's society. It is crucial that people know about current technology and how it impacted and will continue to impact us and our society. Also, the textbooks online can help the absent problem as you said, and allow the student that may be absent to stay on top of things. This is almost being implemented into our society and I think by 2016 every textbook will be online if it is not already.

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  10. There are many ways to make schools better, however everyone has different views and it's hard to please everyone. With standardized tests mandatory for every student, and different cirriculums being taught across the country, many states aren't in sync, at least not yet. Here are a few things that I think will help our school system as we move forward with implementing certain rules:

    1. Clubs/ Sports

    Schools have always been a place for learning, but as you notice around schools everywhere, they have clubs, sports, extracurricular activities and much more. These clubs are not their for show, they are meant for students to get INVOLVED and allow them to make new friends throughout the school. Building confidence in JSA (Junior State of America), writing an excerpt for the newspaper column, or volunteering to help clean up for science club, these are all things that build not only an intelligence, but a character level as well. Colleges no longer just look at how your test grades and GPAs are, they also see how well-rounded you are based upon your sports and what clubs you may be involved in. In order to encourage people to participate in clubs and activites, I think it should be a mandatory decision to be in AT LEAST one sport or club. It will not only help you make new friends, but improve your social skills, or whatever you would like to improve in. For example: If you wanted to get better in public speaking/ debating the Junior State of America would be a great organization to be apart of. That is just one example of the many clubs each school offers in order for you to be INVOLVED with school fun (as it would be referred too).

    2. Try not to broaden majors after middle school.

    Students in schools have a broad range of choices, especially during the highschool years. I believe that by giving so many options to students at a "young adult" age is too much for them to handle. They should start focusing on what they want to do around freshman year of highschool. Changing majors would not a problem, however you have to very sure that it's the right choice to change it. It is not for you to rush into things you want to do, but it will allow you to focus on one subject instead of a broad spectrum that you may not even need to learn in the future. You will still have the basic classes, just harder classes concerning the job you would like to pursue in the picture. It will give you an idea and a stricter way of picking your career in order to look towards the bright future that everyone wishes to have.

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  11. 3. Tutoring mandatory for Concept Students

    Students that are in AP classes choose whether or not they should be eligible for the class as well as a teacher recommendation. They have not only their confidence but the support of other teachers in order to encourage them to get better. AP students in high school are eligible for higher classes, meaning they've learned the lower class curriculum as well, which can come in handy especially for the "less-intelligent" students, as we may refer to them to. I think it should be mandatory for an AP student to tutor concept (less intelligent) students, that may be failing or not doing well in certain subjects. This will not only help the student being taught, but also the AP student who are receiving teaching skills, and communicative skills that they may not even notice especially on a peer level. It will benefit both students, and overall will increase the amount of students doing better in classes, whether it's math, English, or history.

    4. Better Teachers

    Teachers are very helpful and intelligent, however all over the country, there may be teachers that may not be fit for the job. I think it should be mandatory to have a teachers Master in the certain curriculum they are teaching, as well as social or a speaking class in order to communicate on a teenage/children level in order to better understand students more. The better you understand your students, the more they will understand you and will actually be encouraged to learn more. Sometimes it's the teachers that aren't improving the skills of the students in certain classes. Not all teachers are bad, it's just a helpful tip, for certain people that may not be eligible at the time for teaching a class.

    5. Less memorization more practical experiments

    Just like the title states, we should have less memorization for certain subjects and more "hands on" activities as one may say. A huge example of memorization that may not be helpful in future reference is the SATs. The SAT is a test that everyone in the country has to take, basically to see how well you can take a test. Once the SAT has been taken, and you memorized and took classes in order for that one test, you no longer need that information ever in the future, so it was pretty much just a waste of time. It is pretty much useless to future goals and achievements, because it also doesn't show your intelligence based on one test. On the other hand, there is an example of hands on activities in chemistry that are easier to drill into students minds because they are actually attempting the experiments that are being discussed in certain chemistry chapters. Doing more projects with more speaking and fun activities will help students comprehend what they learn and take it for future reference. (Mr.Gehm btw is a great example of doing fun activites to drill the information in our brains)

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  12. Five problems I think need to be addressed in our education system are:

    1. Passion for learning- I feel that there is no passion for learning, instead it is replaced with a want to get pretty marks on a report card. This is wrong especially when it comes to educating the young mind of a child because if you only teach him to memorize and not understand nor aspire, how will they truly understand what they are being taught?
    This could be accomplished by not stressing students to a point where a letter and a number becomes their goal. A student should be inspired whenever an educator goes on to lecture about worldly topics. If you teach a student only to get a nice grade, how will they appreciate what they’re taught?
    Yes I understand the part where a student needs to have something to aim for, but why must they aim for something as simple as a grade? Unfortunately this has come to define us, when that should not be the case. Instead, what defines us should be what is in our heads.
    You may counter that with the purpose of a test, yet, the tests here in America do not truly assess what we know, unfortunately, it only assess what we recall.
    This, in my eyes, is a failure of the education system.

    2. Math teachers need to teach the origin of things. As a girl who has been through many teachers in the past, one thing I have noticed is that math teachers teach us how to do thing, not why they exist nor their general purpose or useful application. This is stressful for a person like me who questions first why, then how.

    3. Schools should aid in future careers. Recently many schools are advancing in this field. For instance, a school should offer a variety of classes and outside programs dealing with careers we would like our youth to take or that our youth would like to take. E.g. In my old school, a ton of different doctor/medicine courses are offered in and out of the school in order to wet the feet of the students of what they would like to study in a very near future. Schools should be the ones to open doors for kids who are ambivalent in deciding future careers. By doing so, it will save the money of students who go to a school with one major in mind, and later end up switching to 1,2,3,4 other majors. Also, it would be a wonderful experience for kids to take with them as they grow. Incorporating more programs into schools would stimulate the minds of our youth because they would be able to encounter up close what the real world entails of. (I can vouch for this because I have met kids who couldn't care less about school, but when they are offered so many choices, they couldn't help but pick one and try it out. By doing so, they slowly began to focus and take control of their future. I’ve witnessed this personally, it happens.)

    4. Teachers should have previous knowledge when teaching a subject. I feel employers should aim to hire for example, a retired model to teach a fashion class. Or a published author to teach a literature class, because these people know exactly what they are talking about and will directly help a struggling student in ways a person who just studied the field couldn’t.

    5. Students should be given time to themselves. In our society students have become overly stressed with the tons of work received. If students are offered time for themselves, time to catch up and collect their thoughts, I believe they will be focused. It will amplify their motivation towards school. In other words, school can be our main priority, but it should not be what breaks us.

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  13. here are just 5 of the many things that i will do for our school system...

    1. Lowering of the Sizes of Classes
    - this is a major factor in the education of the students for it will help their concentration on the subject at hand and will increase the time each teacher will spend on each student. 1 teacher with 21 kids is gunna spend less time on 1 kid rather than if they had 10 per classroom. and this will increase the number of teaching jobs for students.

    2. No More High School Drop Outs
    - after your sophomore year in high school you are allowed to drop out. this shouldn't be the case, with students not being able to drop out of school at an early age, they won't have to think about not getting their diploma cause they will have to get it, college will still be optional.

    3. MORE LEARNING, LESS ON ATHLETICS
    - in todays world high schools and colleges especially are more easy on a person who does a sport/s cause its good for school rep. more scholarships are being given for sports rather than academics!!! IT IS RIDICULOUS

    4. More School Days
    - more school days will increase the time students will be able to the material and will be greater educated in all the subject that they choose to learn, the days will be added from the original 180 up to 200 full days for school, 2 half will equal 1 full day of school.

    5. More Teacher Evaluations
    - these evaluations will make better teacher, and will enhance the learning of the students by bettering the teach him/herself. these will be conducted randomly, so that we can truly get a better evaluation of the teachers, to enhance the education.

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