All we need to do to fix our system of education is …

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… well, actually, you can start by shutting up.

Then, while you are sitting there quietly read this: Why Teaching Is Harder Than It Looks.

Then, add your advice about how we can fix our system of education to the comments below. But each suggestion must be paid for (with money) and fit into the schedule (by paying someone to do what you suggest instead of what they are at present required to do).

Which means, ultimately, there is one fundamental answer to improving our system of education: Throw money at it. For starters, stop taking money away from it. The, put more in.


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22 thoughts on “All we need to do to fix our system of education is …

  1. When teachers have to work 7hrs a day to satisfy silly state/fed requirements how much time is left for teaching? Then the state/feds reduce teacher numbers and lower their pay so the rich don’t have to pay taxes, the teachers are happy to work long extra hours.
    And the ‘no child left behind BS’ is pure BS. A teacher cannot teach 35 students and put in extra time for one problem kid. Get them extra professional help, or get the parents off their dead butts to give the extra help.
    Stop treating people with an education like stupid liars (global warming) and students to go to school instead of being crooks, who are treated with more respect then scientists. As soon as we get rid of the RePukeians out of congress and start treating teachers with respect will be a good start.

  2. Teachers should be fined $15 an hour and not getting a payroll by their J masters. All teachers do is destroy kids in America with the bullshit school system and propaganda they give to kids – teaching kids to be robotic self copying self replicating blue print following slave workers for their teachers and the J kind. Teachers are disgusting, they get paid more then minimum wage and they always complain about how they dont get paid enough, teachers are suppose to pay the world for their crime against humanity. You stupid self serving J kind blue print following pieces of shits. You already follow the suppression of creativity, dynamic and intuitive learning, innovation, etc. If you scums get paid more, you will follow the system more and suppress kids even more.

  3. I want to say, L.Long, that standards (which I think is what you mean by “requirements” are actually a good thing for a number of reasons and most teachers like them. Without them half the life science programs in the US would not teach evolution, even if the teachers wanted to, for example.

  4. Finland. The one country I know that does it right. Of course to do it their way would mean we’d actually have to think of education as more than a necessary evil or a luxury or something untrustworthy or a whipping boy for whatever political gambit is going on at the moment…

  5. ” Teaching is not something that anyone can figure out on their own. ” Yeah…ok…so you need tens of thousands of dollars of training and pay?

    Throwing more money at it has failed. Legislating standards has failed. Using universal metrics to assess an individual journey of learning and experimentation has failed.

    There is no solution possible until we accept that we must throw off the failed system.

    Positive to see the atheist disapprove of the system set up by eugenicists like John Dewey. (

  6. My favorite insight into the results of education comes from the 1980’s. Just a short newspaper article at the time (remember newspapers). IBM had been looking into computer programmer productivity and found that their best people weren’t computer science or math majors. Their most productive programmers were music majors that had become programmers. The thinking is that learning music and languages and all those other useless soft studies makes for a person with a more flexible intellect able to take in new data and convert it to solutions. Of course they needed to learn the new area first, but that’s usually the case anyway.

    Want to improve education? It’ll take some money. Give everyone as broad a general education as each student can take in. The money part is that you can’t have student to teacher ratios set at 20 to 1 (or 50 to 1) and get to each and every student. And automation won’t do it all as we are organic beings that, when we are young, tend to learn by example from older individuals

  7. No not educational standards, but the extra hours of paperwork that goes into the job plus the new state requirements that require them to make the kid FEEL loved and that they are doing good.
    Teach-Instruct-test-grade….want to FEEL good see your parents.
    And the point I was trying to make is that when you have to meet all the extra BS when do you teach to the standards?
    Now if you like the touchy-feely-your-OH-so-Wonderful crap then be willing to pay for the extra hours of effort that requires and extend the time kids are in school.
    During the 50-60’s the routine was… here it is, learn or fail. So I learn and passed when I had problems extra work was assigned for at home and the parents were involved. You fail the test? To flipin’ bad. You got the extra help by summer school or dropping a grade.
    Last time I was in the local elementary school (2002) they were trying how to get records fixed to pass this idiot kid to the next grade. Not because he was stupid but because his parents, like the kid, were as Aholes with political clout who knew ‘Their little twit was perfect so it was the teachers fault’ types.
    So now we have teachers protecting themselves by ‘teaching the test’ which make the system look OK until you look how the country is dong as a whole. Yes teachers should be evaluated in a number of ways, as should the students, and how well they FEEL good about themselves isn’t one of them.
    And one main reason I did well in school is because my PARENTS also did not support failure. They helped, supported, encouraged, assisted with homework, etc.
    What it amounts to is that there is a lot of work needed to get the schools doing well and it aint just about money.

    1. The year is 2013. It’s been 11 years since you made a direct observation. Just sayin’

  8. “Throwing more money at it has failed.”

    Since that hasn’t happened yet, it is hard to say that it has failed.

  9. @#8
    You like charts and data, right?
    Here’s a sample of cash spent per pupil per state and there’s an adjustment for inflation. (Nat Center of Education Stats)

    In what State or year did we not increase spending per pupil?

    It is clear that we continue to dump more money into a failing system. (Unless I misread the headline where we need to “fix” the education system.)

  10. here’s another fun chart (national)

    “After adjustment for inflation, current expenditures per student in fall enrollment at public schools rose during the 1980s, remained stable during the first part of the 1990s, and then rose again. There was an increase of 37 percent from 1980–81 to 1990–91; a change of less than 1 percent from 1990–91 to 1994–95 (which resulted from small decreases at the beginning of this period, followed by small increases after 1992–93); and an increase of 34 percent from 1994–95 to 2008–09. In 2008–09, current expenditures per student in fall enrollment were $10,591 in unadjusted dollars.”

  11. Teachers are going to hate this, but I think that the following would be the best solution. The government should hire a group of the world’s top educators, game designers, user experience designers, programmers, animation, and production experts and come up with a great online education system. The kids can watch these videos as homework and then work with teachers individually in classes or do a watch-then-talk type of classroom environment. Khan academy is a great start. Obviously access to the internet/computers is a big road block for this method but I see this, or some sort of online program, as the eventual solution.

  12. I think the problem is that the class sizes are too big. When one adult, regardless of the credentials, is put in charge of 35 kids, regardless of why or what they are doing, it’s hell. So when one adult is put in charge of 35 kids who don’t want to be there and don’t like what is being taught, it’s worse than hell. Even reducing the class sizes to 20 kids is so much better. Spending money on reducing class sizes is the best thing we can do. And no, teachers don’t destroy children, parents destroy children. Try homeschooling if you don’t agree.

  13. What an interesting blog question! I’m a School Counselor and former teacher in Virginia so I thought I’d add my 2 cents since I guess I am “in the trenches,” as we say, every day.
    Many of these comments are right on about class sizes, and, unfortunately, about teaching to the test to a degree. Although, standards and pacing guides do have their place in not only making sure students are meeting a baseline of learning but also in assuring that students are, for the most part, learning similar things at roughly the same time during the year because there is a lot of transience (students moving from school to school) so it prevents large holes in their learning. It is possible for teachers to insert creative and innovative lessons and still meet standards, but, yes, there is some rote memorization. However, isn’t that life skill as well? A great teacher knows how to balance this and to still make learning fun.

    “limitthislimitthat”, I’m sorry that you clearly had such a terrible experience, and it’s sad that you think so badly of teachers. It is an intense and wonderful job, and most people who do it well love students, love learning, and love teaching. The reason we are paid more than minimum wage is because of the level of education and training that is required and the highly skilled nature of the job. Other jobs that require similar levels of skills and time are paid far better, and that is why teachers lament their pay. However, there are so many fantastic things about the job, that’s also why we stay.

    One thing we can do that does not necessarily involve “throwing money” at the problem (although underfunding does cut those programs and extra staff that help us make lessons more innovative/creative, class sizes smaller, and speciality teachers who can address individual needs of students) but instead reallocating the money that we have is to make the public educational system more specialized, creating schools that have different niches for different types of students. I’m not talking about throwing problem kids in one place and gifted learners in another. ALL students can learn, but, it is not realistic to expect all schools (and therefore all teachers) to cater to every individual and their specific learning needs. This is one of the reasons that other countries have better scores – they are not afraid of specialized programs where kids get what they need. We are terrified in this country of pigeonholing children – making them feel different. What’s wrong with being different? As I teach my students, we all have different strengths and needs. If we didn’t, the world would be pretty boring! Kids and parents need to have more choices – specialized charter schools or vouchers for private schools (which can be more specialized because they do not get federal money), and schools that are designed to help students with specific learning disabilities so they can get specialized instruction. NOT dumping grounds – schools with teachers who are specifically trained to teach and reach their students. These students may eventually not need that level of help anymore and then would transfer to a different program, or they may continue to need that support through grade 12 – either is perfectly ok.
    The idea that private vouchers will ruin public schools is ill-informed. It will be cheaper overall to give parents tax credits for private schools instead of spending up to $8k as the chart shows, to educate those students in public school. Students who do not do this will go to their public school and there will be more money there to hire highly qualified teachers and teach to the specific needs of those students in smaller classes!

    Another issue is the idea that every student needs to go to college… not true. Especially in our world today, college is not necessary for the majority of most jobs, though a Bachelor’s degree is required. Instead, people need specialized training to do the work they are required to do. Trade schools have become a dirty word, and they absolutely should not be. Again, here’s where other countries have it right. If the majority of high schools were specialized or had specialized training programs (NB: some larger school systems are beginning to do this now) we would be preparing students for the world of work out of high school, if that’s what is right for them, or to go on to higher education, if that’s the better fit. The role of a School Counselor is to help students and their parents figure out what that right fit is.

    It does need to be about changing the system. Educating the public and, especially, lawmakers, about what is really needed because the people making the rules are not the people in the industry. It’s about educating parents about how they can help their children. If I had to give it a number I would say that 95% of parents want to help but many don’t know how or are afraid/wary of the system for a variety of reasons. If our society supported and valued our teachers and schools more (monetarily and emotionally) instead of blaming them for all of the educational woes of this country, you might see more qualified people want to be a part of education. Teachers do have to work within some pretty strict parameters and red tape, and that often takes a lot of the great teachers out of the system because they burn out. We need to fix that to retain our people. Japan is a great example of how to do that.

    Sorry this is so long. I am passionate about this because I come from a family of teachers, my husband is a teacher, and I absolutely adore my job because of my amazing students. Thank you for starting the conversation, Greg, and I hope that some of these thoughts resonate with others. Children are awesome and resilient – if we set our expectations high and give them the tools they need, we can again rise to the top in more ways than one.

  14. A bunch of studies were funded a while back to “prove” that increasing class size does not diminish quality of eduction. AFAIK they compared class sizes that were too large with class sizes that were larger. Teachers tend to think (everyone I’ve spoken to, and this is my experience as well) that class size effects come in steps, not continuously. FOr the most part, 5,6,7,8 are all the same number. 16,, 17, 18, or so is definately an effectively larger class, but the exact number does no matter (The cutoffs and groupings of N depend on the individual class for a lot of reasons). SO, those studies tended to compare, say, class size of 30, 35, and 40 and found no difference. Most teachers would say once you hit about 30 you’re screwed, adding a few more is still screwed taking away a few (go to from 30 to 25) would make a big difference.

  15. The State inefficiently allocates monies while obtaining declining results (#10 & #11). Bureaucracy has poisoned education. The State can’t educate the nation in a positive way. Privatize and find success or continue to accept failure.

  16. Back in the early 70s I enrolled in the teacher training program at SFU – After 50 weeks I quit – 2 weeks shy of getting my certificate – I realized that the job was just too damned hard for this introvert to deal with. I have nothing but total respect for those who can do this job and do it well – they should be paid a lot more than they are. The old saying “those who can do, those who can’t teach” is very, very wrong. Those sorts do not generally make good teachers. It is not a “fall back” profession.

  17. Privatization has been tried in the form of charter schools and similar programs. In most cases the “invisible hand of the market place” did unspeakable things. Privatization has been a failure other than in a for-profit sense in educating the elite. Privatization is exactly a call for educating only the elite. It is an evil and nefarious idea.

  18. Give the private sector the chance to motivate and uphold consequences for students who try to skate by or mark time like they do in the public schools. The State cannot positively educate a society. It has to be done by people with a motive to keep their jobs, not via fraud, but with results.

  19. The state did a pretty good job of providing an education to most people when I grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The education bureaucracy has grown much more bloated in the meantime, so it soaks up most of any extra money one might throw at the problem. Charter schools do nothing to solve this problem, they just add a middleman to take a cut of public funds.

    I had a six month nightmare of doing business with the Dallas school district. The people there were so brazenly corrupt, at all levels, that I thought I was in a third-world country.

  20. A) Throw out the old system. It has failed.
    B) Return power to the States/counties/districts…we should have thousands of independent laboratories where we are trying new methods, not one leviathan dominating all districts.

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