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A Simple Approach To Us Education Reform
Some people think it will take billions of taxpayer dollars to fix the education crisis in the United States. Unfortunately, the current financial dilemma faced by Congress, states, and households may not allow additional funds to be set aside for education. Instead, schools must make internal curriculum changes.
Take Advantage of a Child's Ability to Learn Research has shown that five-year old children are more inclined to learn a foreign language than middle age adults. Nevertheless, curriculums in many U.S. school systems fail to optimize the innate abilities of children in this country. For example, some educators think children in our school systems must take Pre-Algebra in seventh or eighth grade. Yet, many children in other countries have been exposed to Precalculus by these same grades. So, why have some educators created an inferior school curriculum that does not allow students in U.S. schools systems to compete against students in other countries' school systems? Thirty to forty years ago, many workers in the United States were able to make a good living without being required to know much beyond the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic; these workers were able to buy a home and car and to retire with a company defined pension. Times have clearly changed; employers are now looking to hire a more skilled workforce, especially those who possess strong quantitative, writing, and critical thinking skills. Without these three skills, many U.S. workers can barely afford to live in a decent neighborhood; otherwise, these workers probably live in neighborhoods that have subpar education systems and are infested with crime.
What can be done to Change the U.S. Education System? Educators must believe that all children in the U.S. can be educated. Children must be exposed to a college curriculum before they go to college. By fourth or fifth grade, every child in the United States needs to be exposed to the most rigorous parts of College Algebra. Additionally, College Geometry, Statistics, and Calculus must be made part of the pre-high school curriculum. However, the importance of reading and writing cannot be overlooked. The completion of one full book per week in every reading course has to be the minimum standard. It is difficult to develop strong critical thinking and reading comprehension skills without a commitment to reading on a daily basis. Children must be required to write two to three weekly papers. Students will have to write at least one weekly paper about the book they have read the past week. Teachers will be required to grade the children's papers with the vigor of an English professor; remember, being easy on children will not allow them to work at Microsoft or Google in the future. To pay for this curriculum change, I suggest schools and parents contact publishers of college books.
It is possible to obtain licensing to these materials without purchasing a textbook, which may cost one hundred dollars. Parents will be required to sign off on their children's homework on a weekly basis. Parents must also attend an hour classroom lesson at least twice a year; these classroom lessons will be aimed at giving the parents a better understanding of the school's curriculum. Hopefully, parents will have the desire to attend a class at least once per quarter. Parents who can help their children with their homework will probably produce better students in the classroom. This plan can work. Exposing children to higher levels of thinking at an earlier age will make them stronger students and better employees of the future.
By: Jason Cunningham
CESJ is a a Special Interest Group (SIG) of the American Educational Research Association (AERA)