EDPS 360 (A2) Fall 2013

Can charter school superheroes save us?

In Cooperative Blog Posts on October 15, 2013 at 8:37 am

by Brent:

After dissecting the Staples article entitled “Top Schools Raise Up Kids From All Background,” as well as the films Waiting for Superman and The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman, I think it’s safe to say that learning can and does occur regardless of a child’s background. Within the article, Staples delves into which Alberta schools do the best job of educating students, and while I appreciate the nature and results of the study, I am left shaking my head at the current state of schooling in Alberta. Though relevant issues such as background and quality of teaching are addressed within the article, the inequality between schools is not fully uncovered. The fact that well-off schools exist within a province of plenty suggests that there is an extreme imbalance within the educational system. This leaves me to ask, in the social realm of education, what

has occurred over the last 20 years to put us in this position of such variance? Although Staples does suggest that percentile ranking of schools is meant to generate discussion, does it? I mean if this unequal education has been going on for over a decade then has such a ranking really lead to any kind of discussion? Beyond this I am left to wonder what the results of such a study really mean. Sure Johnson has done well to uncover test scores over a period of time, but this effort really tells us very little about what goes on within a classroom at either a private or public institution. If a child succeeds outside of the classroom whose to say whether that child’s test scores were significant? And whose to say that those individuals attending the most successful of institutions are not just being taught the test and little else? There is no definition of a successful educator here, only the idea that those whose students achieve a mark of greatness on a test are the example that should be followed. What does that say about the educator who instills important life lessons in a low-ranked school? All I am suggesting is that so much of the work done on education just seems to brush the surface and nothing more. Questions are asked, partial answers are given and we seemingly move on. I truly believe that status/ background of these schools and not just of their students plays a significant role in reaching educational outcomes.

I am a firm believer that teachers can and do play a significant role in the development of students, but if the institutions behind these individuals lack the support they so desperately need then are these students really going to achieve all that they can possibly achieve? Socioeconomic status plays such a crucial role in the development of students, we are talking about HALF the variation from one school to the next. What gets lost in translation is that not only do some students come up from houses of lower socioeconomic status, but these kids are also coming up through a system that supports upper-middle class students more effectively. Parents that have the money to send their kids to a top notch private school do so not simply because they can, but because to see their child fail at the hands of public education is not an option.

As was demonstrated in Waiting for Superman, there is such support for education in general, but in the end nobody in the private sector really wants to embrace a public education unless they have to. They want shortcuts, advantages, anything that they can get to ensure that their kids have an edge! Really, the three of these sources point to the sorry state of education and the fact that it is only getting worse. With the socioeconomic divide growing, I am not certain the system can be fixed, or if there is any real solution to this current issue. In the end, if all things were created equal, students should have every chance to succeed in education regardless of financial barriers.

by Colby:

It’s relatively obvious that Waiting for Superman implies that Charter schools are the saviour that disenfranchised students need. The fulfillment of the promise of the American Dream to the few fortunate students that make their way into the charter school system. While watching waiting for superman I didn’t disagree with the importance of the Charter school to the individual applicants, but what I struggled with is what that importance implied about the American Education system. While Charter schools may provide -nigh economically unattainable- solutions to individuals in disadvantaged scenarios, the problem of the necessity of a solution remains. Proposing competition as the solution to the problem of inadequate education implies an intrinsic mistrust of teachers. It implies that quality education in every school is an impossibility. This idea of competition not ignores the possibility for and necessity of equal education, it also ignores the myriad of problems facing teachers imbedded in the socioeconomic strata of the public school system. Any educator knows that the process of education is one of compromise between the teacher and the student, the more factors weighing on the student, the more difficult the point of compromise that leads to success will be.

This is not to say that the ideas behind the charter school are completely without merit. Schools that provide a focused quality of education may well be the only option to equalize some students as long as the education system remains broken. Furthermore the existence of a teachers union does present some problems to the issue of education. As long as the organization exists, there is potential for the self interest of teachers to conflict with the interest of students. New York’s rubber room provides an example of this. The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman reminds the viewer how complex these issues really are however. Charter Schools may be a band-aid solution to a much more complex web of problems than the simple success or failure of a few students in the system. While the teachers union represents a sort of bail out program for terrible teachers, it is also a tool for empowering teachers in protecting the educational interests of their communities.

While the arguments behind the charter school system are deep and complex, I believe the Edmonton Sun article provides the best site of solution to the problem of competition between the public and private sector. Schools must be valued based on the opportunity for improvement they provide to their students. As a volunteer at Bosco homes I am involved with students with deeply problematic backgrounds. Sometimes the very best teaching manifests itself in having a student simply finish a worksheet, something that students in the mainstream have no trouble with. How can any effective system be built based on public inquiry using grades as a point of reference when a student with FAS living in an unstable environment is held to the same standards as a student with above average IQ in a stable home environment with a focus on academic success?

by Michael:

While watching both Waiting for Superman and The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman the major point I got from it was that the American educational system is completely broken. I don’t particularly have any knowledge about the American educational system, mostly due in part to having no plans on ever living there, so I can only make assumptions from what I saw in the two movies, and make some more assumptions when speaking about inequality and schooling.

I’m a firm believer in the freedom to have multiple options open, and the value of competition. Parents should have multiple school board choices to pick from such as the differences between charter, private, and public schools. However, in my perfect world private schools would not be funded through tax dollars as discussed in the article by Kachur. In this way, the existence of one would not hinder the other. Parents still pay their taxes, money gets funneled into the public school systems, and those who wish to pursue other options are able to. In fact, charter and private schools would exist due to market demand and the ability to provide a service that public schools may be failing at. This is effectively the issue in the two videos. Public education was likely to fail in properly educating children, so parents seek an alternative.

However, does the ability to have multiple choices for those that wish to have an alternative promote inequality in Canada? I would say no, as long as the public educational system is held to a high standard. If education was wholly limited to those with better socioeconomic status then it would be, but this is not the case (to my knowledge) in Canada. While I went to public schools I had friends and relatives attend private options both in Canada and internationally. My education never suffered as a result of them having alternatives that they would rather pursue, even if their schooling had been more specialized.

In fact, I believe the opportunity for choice outside of the public system could improve conditions for students in the public system as well as employment standards for teachers. The public system will still be getting revenue from taxes, but class sizes may decrease as parents pursue alternatives for their children. This can allow for more attention given to individual students who need it. In turn, they could also learn from the specialized techniques that charter and private schools incorporate in order to improve their teaching. In the case of improving quality of life and pay for teachers it would also force stagnating teachers unions to compete with private and charter entities which may lead to an increase in pay and benefits, as well as giving overperforming teachers an ability to further their career outside of union restrictions.

by Emma:

The issue with standardized testing is that it is “standard” and only examines if the student has retained the specific information on the exam. This means that it is up to the teacher to prepare these students to do well on provincial exams. This is very important when it comes to the type of teaching style the school follows. Child-centered learning has many positives and negatives, however when it comes to standardized testing this approach can be challenging. This gives the students more freedom in the classroom. Children are able to learn at their own pace, and have more control over the curriculum. Child-centered learning can be very effective since the students will be more engaged in their studies because they will have the power of choice. Regarding provincial achievement tests these students potentially could not as well since there is so much more flexibility versus the direct instruction method. Education becomes very political when using the method of “direct instruction”. These schools are a place where students become constructed, and “molded” into thinking the way teachers want them to. Students are taught at a young age that the teacher is always correct, and there is a strong resistance for students to become critical thinkers. So is it unfair how the government examines student’s achievement within the school system?
The teaching method is important where a school will be ranked however a large part is the education level of the parent. I completely agree with this statement, if the parent is not there supporting their child throughout school then it makes it much more difficult for the child to succeed. Also the values that the parents teach their children will affect how seriously they take schooling. If the parent is not asking the child how school went, and enforcing they do their homework then they will not look at school as an important priority. How well a student performs within the school system starts with how involved the parent(s) are within their children’s education.

  1. All of the posts are concerned with the lack of equality. Could a government which embraced some more socialist characteristics be able to collect more taxes provide a more equal public education.

    • Well, I suppose it could, but collecting more taxes wouldn’t make that government socialist. Some would say so, of course, but wouldn’t that just be an effort to work on the revenue rather than the expense side?

  2. It could at first, but if the government used their greatly increased resources to create a fantastic and equal public education system (among other services like health care) wouldn’t that go a long way to preventing a rise of the private system? By having them contribute a greater percentage of their income to taxes it would deter people from not using the services which their taxes fund. That of course requires a trust that the government will do the right thing.

    • I see. Well, I suspect that may be the case now with respect to the reluctance of people to live outside the public system. Another factor in Alberta, though, has bee the gov’t’s willingness to, in Kachur’s words, privatize public choice. So, instead of forcing the powerful (potentially) disaffected into a completely private system, it allows for differentiation within the public system. Those with greater power and inclination to choose can make meaningful, consequential choices. The unintended (is it?) consequence is the exacerbation of inequality. Those who are less able to choose are left (all things being equal) with a lower quality school.

    • This is kind of the core of my point. Quality of education and numeric success arnt the same thing. Competition based schools ignore this by their current nature. A quality of education based system might not.

  3. But if more schools are able to provide these diversified programs because of the increased funding isn’t that keeping with alberta governments directive?

  4. I find these arguments very insightful. I really like what Emma says about standardized testing “The issue with standardized testing is that it is “standard” and only examines if the student has retained the specific information on the exam.” Standardized tests do test what a child should have got from the curriculum, the big ideas, however, these test require way more out of children then just remembering. There is a high reading level involved with most of them, even the math and sciences. Diploma tests also can make or break a students ability to attend some post-secondary institutions. This puts a large amount of stress on children, especially, at 50% of the final grade. A student has one bad day, a cold, a stressful family situation and the hopes of necessarily doing well on these tests is shot or could be shot. Many students when told there will be a test asks “what’s going to be on it,” and agreeing with Emma direct might be the better choice. However, I do like Child-center, I think it has way more ways for children to learn from, how to plan so that they are not stressed and doing assignments the night before. Yes life has dead lines, but if children are taught early time management and that at one point things will be due then they can learn to manage time, have a life outside of school, be in-control of their lives.

    • I completely agree in that diploma and standardized testing is such an odd phenomenon in our education system and in society STILL…if our education is doing well from the perspective of the world, then how is something so clearly prehistoric in its principles and that is so hated by such large numbers in society still existing? I think the answer lies in our societies need to claim a “winner” in absolutely everything and so focussed on competition. Lets face it, our society THRIVES on competition in every single aspect of daily life and as a motivator. If the norms are changed and standardized testing abolished, then how can the government rank us? How can we control and know confidently which schools and teachers are actually doing their job and doing it well as opposed to a free-for-all? Its bullshit at the core, but I dont see any capability for change in that aspect.

      • I should add to the points made in class that a marketized system is seen to be productive, so I think it’s important that you use the word thrive. Most commentators wouldn’t argue that this kind of system is productive. They would disagree on the other outcomes a competitive system produces.

      • …inequality, for example.

  5. There is a common theme going on in this entire ppostig and discussion that focusses on the standardized testing issue involving students from “successful” schools and I think it is very common for teachers, parents, students, school boards and the general public to read these articles, or watch the documentaries and decide what they will (form personal opinions) and then simply move on; however, there is little anybody actually does to take these discussion points and opinions and use them to form their individual role in the system. School boards and schools themselves are already extremely competitive over which is the best and that involves competition over test scores and in Alberta it is inevitable to walk into a staff room during diploma season and here nothing but how teachers can go about molding their students into the best academic robots possible for a month, therefore everybody involved simply takes and further necessitates the need for the tests and the academic competition and the focus on being the bbest intrinsically and realistically (test scores aside) is completely thrown out the window. I understand this tangent has little to do with the root of the discussion and class, but it’s an interesting trend ive noticed in class and through this blog discussion.

    • So, what should teachers be focusing on instead? Is time management part of that? Why do students need to learn time management?

      • I dont think each individual person or anybody can define that, as if we change it to say time management as the focus then how can we rank which school does the best at, as our society revolves around the notion of who’s best, who is doing what it should…how do you test, and hold and accountability for something so vague, vast, and open to individual interpretation. We are back at square one.

  6. I think comparing public schools in Canada to those in America is a flawed approach to take, seeing as how the Canadian public school system, nationally, is doing a better job of keeping students up to grade level, and in line with the academic performance of other industrialized nations. You may have suffered no ill effects in attending your local public school here, or in suburban areas in the United States, but attending inner-city public schools in the US, according to what was presented in the video, will significantly impact your educational prospects, and if you are unable to choose a different public school because of what community you live in, applying to a charter school seems like a Hail Mary throw that would pay off to the nth degree if your child is admitted.

  7. I want to kind of build off what Brent was saying about measuring the success of schools. He said “If a child succeeds outside of the classroom whose to say whether that child’s test scores were significant? And whose to say that those individuals attending the most successful of institutions are not just being taught the test and little else?” I completely agree with this statement, and I have a friend who did not care about school at all, and he barely put in any effort but he always says to me “you know you did all that studying and work and I didn’t but we have the exact same high school diploma” and you know what he is completely right. Now Im not saying that students don’t have to put in effort in school I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t put in the effort but I wanted to get myself into university to become a teacher. That is where the difference is, he did not want to go to university, however he is just as successful in his life right now working in the trades. He only learned what he needed from school for him to succeed in what he wanted to do. I think that this is how we should be measuring or looking at how successful schools are, by looking at graduated students and seeing if they are where they want to be, if they believe that they are being successful in their own life. If all the students from a school are getting to where they want to be whether that is in university, collage, the trades, anywhere then isn’t that the most successful school? Aren’t schools meant to lead students to what they want to be?

    • Are you planning to drop out and join the trades? Does your comment suggest somehow that money is not really what motivates people?

      • See if money does motivate people then they will most likely try to do a lot better in the education system to succeed and work their way into higher paying jobs. However money does not motivate everyone there are still lots of people that work in jobs because that is what they want to do that is what they like doing. That is not saying that all people working in low paying jobs want to be working in those low paying jobs, but there are some people that do.

  8. I agree largely with what Michael has said in his part of the blog. I definitely feel that charter, public, and private schools should all be a part of the educational system, so long as each of them is held to a high standard. I really do believe that if a particular school ‘appears’ to be doing ‘better’ than surrounding schools (regardless of whether this is due to the socioeconomic status of students, or the quality of teaching), that these other schools will be encouraged to perform better. If principals are competing for high student enrollment, they are more likely to encourage a higher standard of teaching within their staff. Even if standardized test results do not reflect these changes, it is still important that teachers are raising their own standards and looking out for the best interests of their students.

  9. Colby asked “How can any effective system be built based on public inquiry using grades as a point of reference when a student with FAS living in an unstable environment is held to the same standards as a student with above average IQ in a stable home environment with a focus on academic success?”

    In the blog this was the most important thing in my eyes. My mom is a special needs assistant and I get to hear daily about the struggles and accomplishments of the students she works with. Some days having her student sit in her seat for 20 minutes is the biggest accomplishment of the day. But how can you say that is any less of an accomplishment than myself getting a 90 on my assignment. We both worked hard and we both struggled and some point but we persevered to some form of success. So at some level when she performs the standardized test even given extra time or the accommodations they say can be given the results will still likely not be any where near those of many other students. This then brings upon two things – Does her needs get met by these tests? Is there a better way to determine how successful a student is at the end of the year?

    Colby also says “Schools must be valued based on the opportunity for improvement they provide to their students.”

    This I find as an interesting way to value schools. I think it would definitely be useful in how our schools perform to support each individual student and focus on the opportunities they are providing.

    • I’m still wondering what those values ought to be. Just to support individual students? Yes, I suppose, but students individual…what? Also, why should schools support common goals?

      • These are interesting questions to me. If a public system could be implemented with a private approach (i.e. schools operate individually) we could have a variety of schools with varying focuses. Students and parents could then choose their schools based off of their own individual goals as opposed to one “publicly accepted” goal. I’m sure there are plenty of underlying issues with this however.

  10. I think that students need to learn time management, because we live in a world that is always racing the clock, and this needs to be done by this time and this day. This really stresses out a lot of people (I find). But if we can teach students to look at tasks and break them down into small manageable sized bits then they can focus better on each task. Looking at it as I have two day to get 6 hours of work done, well that is 3 hours two days and less stressful.

    • I don’t necessarily think that paying teachers based on student achievement or using competitive wages is the solution to the problem. To go along with that, I feel like provincial exams are more detrimental to students than they are helpful. Not every student can perform or show their knowledge to the best of their ability on a multiple choice test. I think it would be best to allow students to demonstrate their knowledge in a way that makes sense to them, whether it’s writing a paper, doing a presentation or doing a multiple choice test. I think that if more freedom was given to teachers in terms of assessment strategies, lots of these problems would disappear. Teachers also need to realize that they are one of the most important part know shaping their students into individuals who can display their knowledge in innovative and interesting ways. Teachers need to be intrinsically motivated to do this for children, not motivated by more money or other extrinsic reasons.

    • Why not teach them how to challenge the idea that time is something to managed?

  11. I agree with Michael that an increase in choice of schools is beneficial for students as well as teachers. I think a little competition between schools is healthy. It encourages schools boards, administrators and teachers to offer their absolute best and not fall into stagnant complacency. Choice also allows more options for the students to find a school that will best suit their needs and best engage them. A couple summers ago I tutored a student of the Suzuki Charter School. She was learning in grade 2, learning French and English and also how to play the cello. This was an excellent opportunity for her that she might not have had at a public school.
    As for standardized testing, I do not think it is an accurate testing method. I agree with Emma that it “only examines if the student has retained the specific information on the exam”. It also does not take into consideration students’ test writing ability.

    • Re the Suzuki Charter school, some schools offer such opportunities. Why not all?

      • A combination of costs and/or lack of professionals that can teach these subjects at requested pay rates perhaps? I think an issue that would be faced is that if a politician were to run on a platform of increasing tax rates for better public schooling opportunities the common voter is only going to hear “increase taxes” before turning off their brain and voting for the other candidates, so in a way it could be an issue with society and culture as a whole.

  12. I would just like to comment on how I can recognize the way that the american school system started to decline, as I feel as though I lived it. Growing up in a small rural town, there was one choice of school for both elementary and high school. My school happened to be ranked the ‘worst’ in the division, which naturally, did not attract the best teachers. Over the years, the teachers who had the consistently low diploma scores, or who received many complaints but held continuing contracts got transferred to my school, which, as you can imagine, started to cause issues in the school. The students started to get neglected, and it felt as though the focus was on getting the students through the years rather than allowing them to excel. (Case in point, I was taught Pure Math 30 by a first year teacher with a major in Drama and a minor in PE, who never took a university level math course). I do feel that if the closest private school wasn’t a hour away, it would have been an option for me. My school is now trying to reverse what it has done the past 10 years, and it is very difficult. As the American school system is a similar concept but on a huge scale, it is easy to see how it has fallen from grace so quickly, and no one really knows what to do to fix it.

  13. Emma’s comment about the importance of parents is what really caught my attention. I completely agree with her idea that if parents are supporting their child’s education it can be beneficial. The importance that students will place on their own education begins early, and often at home. If these children are focused on schoolwork while they are at school, and then that extends to when the child gets home, there is a much higher chance that they will be more successful in their education. It is also important that the issue with standardized testing was brought up. These exams are only testing certain areas and are excluding many in which students can display knowledge.

  14. I too, like Colby, don’t disagree with the points Waiting for Superman makes in favour of the chartered schools but I find it hard to believe that chartered schools is the only or best solution. I think introducing competition is also a negative suggestion because from what we are taught in University, teachers shouldn’t need to compete against each other. The whole point of being a teacher is wanting to help students learn and grow, if teachers, and administrators, need incentive to do this job there seems to be a larger problem with educators and those running the system than the actual system. In that sense why isn’t more pressure being placed on teachers to teach a certain, standardized, way? Why not introduce a standard test that aspiring teachers need to pass in order to become full fledged teachers. It may sound insane, but if there is so much dispute over the quality of teachers maybe it could help. And really a standard test to see if your a good quality teacher is about as ridiculous as a diploma determining if a student learned enough of the curriculum to be considered a “smart” or “academically successful” student..

    • I notice a lot of the responses mentioning competition between teachers, but there is an aspect that is missing. That is the competition between different fields. For example, why would a student (let’s say a Physicist) choose to be a teacher when he could get a better pay grade elsewhere?

  15. One of the problems I see is that by assuming that competition is the solution to the problem, we are assuming that giving teachers monetary incentives for higher academic achievement by their students will motivate them to work harder. I would hate to think that the majority of teachers need or want these incentives in order to become more innovative or inspired in the classroom. I think that having schools and teachers compete for money, students and recognition would ultimately create more losers than winners. Students who do not have the same resources available to them whether that is due to SES, problematic home situations, or a lower IQ, will be undervalued in the classroom and most likely ignored by teachers who have their “eye on the prize” so to speak. So these students who are already at a disadvantage in the school system get put one or more steps father behind their more privileged peers. Joining this group of “losers” are schools who already receive less funding from the government and less funding from their neighborhood and parent community. For example, I have worked with students at Ben Calf Robe, a primarily aboriginal school in the Edmonton catholic system. These students are not working at grade level, and in grade five, many are just beginning to learn how to read at very basic level. Many of these students have problems at home that most of their teachers-who are generally white, middle class individuals-can not even begin to imagine. The parents and guardians of these children are hoping to give their kids a chance at success by sending then to a city school rather than the school on the reserve, and this school does the best it can to provide their students with the best chance at success while still preserving their culture through drum ceremonies, smudges in the morning and having meals provided for students. There are so many factors at play for these students and many of these obstacles working against said students are out of their control. It is a victory for many students if they come to school on time for a whole week, or remember to bring their homework back to class. The teachers at this school are doing the best they can with the little funding and resources they do receive, all with little to no support from the community. By increasing competition among schools as an incentive for teachers, we are disabling these students even further. An academic victory for a student at Ben Calf Robe will differ vastly to a student at Aurora private school for example. Neither one of these victories is more important than the other, but both need the chance to be fostered and recognized.

  16. Good question. But do all schools need to offer all the exact same opportunities? Diversity of school programs is another form of choice. If you have the privilege to choose between schools, I guess…

  17. I appreciated the importance that the video “Waiting for Superman” put on the quality of teachers. I went to school in a small rural school where the teachers came straight from university and stayed until they were decent teachers and then left for a “better” school or a better area. Our school really suffered from a lack of quality teachers. We also has some teachers that had been around for decades and whose teaching was no longer meaningful, yet their jobs were basically guaranteed. We had a few really good teachers, in whose classes I felt I learned more than in the classes with the poor quality teachers.

    • Yes, I think quality of teaching is undoubtedly important. Still, when we are talking about proposals for improving quality, we should pay attention to the assumptions behind those proposed solutions. A case in point is the idea rewarding (monetarily) “good” teachers/teaching. Are teachers really motivated by money?

  18. I believe that parents are a very crucial part of a child’s education. It is in the home where a child first begins to develop notions of the world and understandings of the environment surrounding them. Interactions with their parents teach a child language, social skills, cultural values, discipline, etc. Parents shape the views of their children and a child’s view of themselves and where they see they are headed. Our parents play a large role in influencing our lives. I would not be the person that I am today without the influences of my parents and the values they have instilled in me. Parental influences and its importance are seen in the documentary Waiting for Superman. For example, Daisy’s parents both dropped out of school due to their family circumstances however they know that helping Daisy to succeed in school and achieve her dream of becoming a vet or a doctor is important in todays society to ensure their daughter has the best life possible. They also hold Daisy accountable by ensuring that she does half an hour of reading before she is allowed to play. Similarly the documentary highlights the other parent’s involvement in their child’s education showing them assisting with homework and doing everything they can to get their child the best education possible.

    When the public schools that are available to students are not meeting the needs of these students then there needs to be other options for their education. Charter schools may be a solution for some but they are not a solution to the education problem. Many children, especially those of lower socio-economic status are not helped by charter schools (or private schools), unless they are fortunate enough to win the lottery, for the few covenant seats. In many places charter schools that have developed have been co-located into existing public school spaces. This co-location has strained the learning spaces and resources available for the public schools. Co-location may cause such problems as reducing the space available for special needs education as mentioned in The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman. One way to better education available to all students is to work towards improving the state and efficiency of public schools.

    Teachers need to be accountable to the students, they need to be active, engaged and interested in the student’s learning. The teachers need to be motivated to teach the students and develop relationships and individualized assistance to help each student succeed. The teachers need to be responsible; it is unfair to the students to have the schools do the lemon dance each year. A teacher can truly make or break a student’s educational experience and thus strongly influence the student’s further educational aspirations. However the school boards and governments also need to become more engaged in the education process and take responsibility rather then using the teachers and their respective unions as scapegoats for the problems experienced in the school system. They need to find ways to allocate resources to schools that need them in a fair and just way so that the ‘big and best’ schools do not get all the resources. The boards and districts need to find incentives to bring the good teachers to struggling schools to improve the students’ chances of success. One teacher can truly make the difference in a child’s life.

    Most importantly there needs to be options available to give all students a chance to succeed and pursue further education if they choose. Society needs to develop a system that encourages students and keeps them in school. Students need the motivation to stay in school to allow them to establish a decent life for themselves and to avoid dropping out or ending up in jail. As shown in Waiting for Superman there will be economic benefits from these changes, including a financial benefit of keeping students in school and out of the prison system. An education system comprised solely of charter and private schools with no emphasis on public education is not a solution. There needs to be equal education for all students available to them where they can choose the school that will best meet their needs. We need to prevent students from becoming stuck in a mold they cannot break out of and the only way to achieve this is by giving every individual a good, equal education.

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