Some Real Innovation in Education

A recently released report proposes some big changes to the way schools currently run their operations. It's got the usual stuff like increasing teacher salaries (which, adjusted for inflation, have stayed flat for over 30 years), expanding college programs that train teachers and more flexibility in hiring. The big one, however, is a total change to the school year: longer days and more of them. I say it's about time.

Leaving schools empty for so much of the day and year is making very poor use of the facilities and faculty and drags out secondary education for much longer than necessary. From what I can tell, it would make schools have double sessions and three trimesters. The overachievers could potentially complete all of their needed credits by their sophomore year, freeing up valuable space in the schools while giving all students a lot of choice as to when they go to school and how many classes they take.

I say we owe those guys on the task force a Coke for coming up with such a good idea. 

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10 Responses

  1. Bill Fox says:

    I’ve got another idea. How about letting those who have their law degree in constitutional law, who want to teach, be allowed to teach Jr. High Government without this silly need for a credential and having to go before a board who judges the courses he or she has taken to be inadequate for the requirements. How about them also letting degreed professionals teach in the fields they mastered in private life with maybe a semester of paid student teaching instead of having to go for a year unpaid. In other words lets let those who want to teach, have the knowledge and or experience, teach. I know that is too simple a concept for the bureaucrats and unions, but that is my 2 cents

  2. “The overachievers could potentially complete all of their needed credits by their sophomore year”

    You know, there’s something to be said for the emotional development that happens over the natural course of aging. I don’t think speeding up the process of schooling and thrusting out students into places where they can make bigger decisions (and thus bigger mistakes) even sooner is necessarily a great idea. In fact, I think it will just make the overachievers feel like they’re not doing *enough* if they don’t want to graduate by the time they’re 15. I know I would have felt that way – and personally, I wish I’d been even just a bit older when I graduated. Then maybe I wouldn’t have been as stupid when I became an “adult.”

    (Or maybe I would have. Either way, here’s a blog comment.)

  3. And another:

    Presumably, teachers prepare for their classes. (Well, good ones do anyway.) And yet, this proposal seems to sort of skim over that part. It talks about an 8-5 schedule, but a good teacher is going to be working a 9 or 10-hour day, as opposed to the 7-8 hour day they were working previously (6 classroom hours plus prep). And the 60% salary increase really isn’t increasing the pay *rate* – since the teachers would be increasing their hours by about 56%. Just increasing the load and compensating accordingly.

    I am currently dealing with the problem of a teacher who’s overloaded and burned out. It seems to me that this might exacerbate that sort of problem. I’m all about options – but I’m inherently skeptical of moves to “cut costs” by increasing production of existing staff. Before I’d support a move in that direction, I would want to know what would happen if a teacher wanted to stay on a traditional schedule.

  4. Sorry – it’s late. I don’t know if that made any sense.

    Or if it seemed adverserial.

    (I’m jealous that you’re going to Italy, probably.)


  5. Mike says:

    Wait a minute…

    You’re saying scientists should be allowed to teach science and artists should be allowed to teach art in public schools?


  6. Jeremy says:

    Amen to this post. If teachers aren’t happy with the increase in pay we can always give them more with the extra money we’ll be saving. Better yet we could finally institute a real merit pay system for the teachers who really are worth it.

    And Fox is right too. The teacher education system is broken and stupid.

  7. Bobbie says:

    I would have JUMPPED on the opportunity to get out of High School sooner. Instead I ended up eventually getting so bored that my grades suffered and well, anyway, if I could have doubled up on time and booked it out sooner I would have.

    My sister tried to graduate early and she had to jump through all kinds of amazing hoops. I mean honestly.

  8. Shauna says:

    I was so bored with high school I almost dropped out when a wise school counselor (no, really) recognized that I had enough credits to graduate early since I had taken extra classes my first 3 years. I wouldn’t call myself an overachiever or anything, but I consider it a blessing that I was able to graduate early even if all I did with my extra time was pull some extra shifts at the Taco Bell. At least I got my diploma.

  9. Reach Upward says:

    The problem is that this proposal starts with the entirely wrong side of the equation. It smacks of the standard centralized planning, comrade.

    Student flexibility is a secondary concern in this plan. The first concern is that our facilities are inefficiently used and that we need to do more with the people we have because we can’t think of any other way to resolve the teacher shortage. A certain degree of student flexibility would be a byproduct.

    Here’s an idea. Redefine who your customers are and give your customers what they want. Flex the currently inflexible system to make it work. This would require actually doing what it takes to attract good teachers because the customers would demand it.

    Some private universities have successfully followed this approach. Of course, they are much despised by the traditional universities. Somehow this reminds me of something — kind of like the relationship between public and private primary and secondary schools.

    But the government bureaucracy will only come to this kind of solution if it is brought kicking and screaming into it. I guess that’s why the whole voucher thing evokes such strong emotions.

  10. Jesse says:

    I’m certainly not calling this an end-all, be-all solution, but it does seem like a good use of resources and I’m all for resourcefulness. It seems like a first step towards a college-style way of taking classes to me, and I can get behind that.

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