It is pointless to hope that people like Eli Broad and Michelle Rhee would ever be able to see the light; their enormous egos block their apertures to any enlightenment. But could it be possible that billionaires Bill and Melinda have just enough of the humility needed to access a deeper understanding?
After failing at his first efforts of school reform, it looks like Bill Gates is beginning to hunt for new ways to improve public education. He needs to look no further.
Recently on the
"As a teacher, what I would like to see would be smaller class sizes. To me, that is the best way to impact student learning, create small learning communities, be able to reach the families of those students, offer students more opportunities to be engaged in the classroom, and provide students with intensive one-on-one or small group instruction.
I have two core groups of 8th grade students, and I teach them Language Arts and History for 105 minutes for each group. I have 33 in one class and 34 in the other. (Up until two years ago I had 131 minutes to do the same curriculum and I had 5 or 6 fewer students in each class.) Ideally, a class of 20 or fewer students would allow me to have meaningful conferences with students on their writing, to devote more time to each paper they write before I speak with them, to spend less time trying to catch them up when they don't do their homework, to be able to call home regularly, and to even, perhaps, make home visits, if necessary.
Teachers, the ones who are in the trenches right now, know what would make a difference in our schools and our classrooms. We need more adults on campus, not just teachers, but aides, and people assigned to work with students in peer mediation, on school safety issues, in counseling, etc. We need significantly smaller class sizes.
We need the professional latitude and time to design curriculum or to build on curriculum that has been provided for us. We need meaningful collaboration times with our colleagues-- perhaps common prep periods. (And some teachers need a daily prep--especially in
at the elementary level.) We need meaningful staff development on how to best reach our students, how to analyze what problems they might be having academically, and how to adjust our teaching to meet their needs. Oakland
We need more classroom supplies and materials. We need art, music, shop and home ec electives for all kids, but especially those who are kinesthetic learners. We need our schools to be places, not just of learning, but of community-building for the families and neighborhoods of students.
And we especially need fewer so-called educational reform experts telling us what we need."