OK, here are my ideas to take all the negative “reforms” happening in education and using those structures for good!
1) Teach for America: Instead of throwing these young, talented, driven people off the deep end into their own classrooms immediately, change the program into an internship program. TFA teachers would be assistants in a certified, veteran teacher's classroom. Think of the immediate positive impact they could make! Think of the time and energy they could bring! Think of how it will help both children and teachers!
2) Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Instead of dictating how teachers should teach or how they should be evaluated, why don’t you focus your significant funds into wraparound services like health clinics, mental health services, pre-natal care, funds for full Pre-K programs, or food and housing programs? Help combat the poverty which holds too many of our kids back so that teachers can better do what they do best: teach!!
3) Charter schools: Stop pushing out children who are difficult to educate and instead focus your time and energy SPECIFICALLY on those kids. Use the innovation and lack of red tape to be a haven for these kids. Do not market based on the test scores, but rather the innovative programs that help kids experiencing school failure, behavior problems, or learning difficulties. How about a charter designed for a full hands-on experience to cater to kids with significant attention problems (Maybe TWO periods of gym a day)? How about a school dedicated to getting kids out of gangs? How about special multi-language schools where non-native English speakers are highly valued!?!
I will keep adding to this as I think of ideas….