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Ventura County Perspective

Say You Want a Revolution in Education? A Few Suggestions . . .

A presidential candidate urges radical changes in schools, but offers no specifics. Here are some ideas to consider.

July 18, 1999|STEVE BLUM | Steve Blum is president of the Ventura Unified Education Assn

The 2000 presidential race has begun. The candidates are out stumping for votes and money. The candidates are talking about issues such as gun control, Social Security, health care and education. All the candidates seem to have their own ideas about what to do about the nation's school system.

One of the leading candidates said he would make "revolutionary" changes in our education system. He did not say what these revolutionary changes might be.

Here are some suggestions:

* It would be revolutionary if class size in all classes were reduced. Many states have reduced class sizes, but only in some grades or classes.

* It would be revolutionary if there were adequate supply budgets so teachers would not need to spend between $1,000 and $3,000 of their own money for classroom supplies.

* It would be revolutionary if our schools actually housed the number of students they were built for instead of being overcrowded with hundreds of students too many.

* It would be revolutionary if our schools did not have so many portable classrooms and did not look like mismatched trailer parks.

* It would be revolutionary if our schools had adequate space for playgrounds, athletic fields and parking lots. Many schools used to have these, but portable classrooms now occupy those spaces.

* It would be revolutionary if politicians would commit more dollars to education and commit to less rhetoric about education.

* It would be revolutionary if politicians did their job (to adequately fund our schools), let teachers do their job (teaching our children), and let local school districts do their job (running our schools).

* It would be revolutionary if a politician would be honest enough to admit that he or she is more interested in tax cuts than in funding our schools and that he or she is more interested in making more money for someone like Sam Walton than in improving our schools.

* It would be revolutionary if the media would focus on all the good things American public schools do instead of just focusing on the few negatives.

* It would be revolutionary if the media and the public would realize that test scores are nothing but a snapshot of how a student and a school are doing--not the end-all, tell-all.

* It would be revolutionary if politicians would stop criticizing schools to get elected and stop criticizing them more to get reelected.

* It would be revolutionary if capitalists would stop seeing schools as a way to get richer.

* It would be revolutionary if U.S. schools were no longer blamed for almost every problem that exists in this country.

* It would be revolutionary if the media, politicians and the public gave teachers and educators the respect and credit they deserve for all they do in spite of all the obstacles they must overcome.

* It would be revolutionary if people would realize that America did not become the richest and most powerful country in the world in spite of our education system. America became the richest and most powerful country on Earth because of our education system. We are the only nation where everyone has a chance to "make it." Everyone has a chance to make it because anyone can get a great education in America.

It would be revolutionary if these changes took place. It would be amazing if just one of them actually happened.

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