Schools: Good Time To Modernize.
by Marvin Kusmierz
January 28, 2006
The budgets of school districts all around Michigan are in need of a fix. Lost revenue sharing and a bad economy have distressed the present school system. This may be a good opportunity to modernize the school system to meet the needs of education in the 21st Century.
The world has changed dramatically since the present nine month school system was developed to meet the needs of the farming era, when schools were schools were shut down during the summer months so kids could help tend to duties on the farm. It may have made sense back then, but it a terrible waste of time and resources today.
The justification for closing the school during the summer no longer exists. In fact, there is good justification to keep the schools open year round. There are many needs that support this proposition and there are many advantages in doing so.
Modern families are dramatically different today. Many households have a single parent and households that do have two parents usually have both working to make ends meet. In either case, these families would benefit from having youngsters attend school year round eliminating the need to find someone to care for them while at work.
It's hard to imagine a company shutting down its production 25% of the year and paying its employees a full years wages to boot, but that is what the current school structure does. Its conceivable that educators earnings could be increased while saving taxpayer's some money.
Utilizing school buildings year round may increase annual costs slightly but this should be more than offset by more efficient utilization, and could reduce the number of buildings required.
Many schools have computers, but there use is limited. Modern computer technologies make the computer and interactive learning experience that can be employed as a major tool to improve teaching methods and the learning requirements of student to improve their education. Every classroom seat should have a computer station because it can deliver one on one learning lessons giving the teacher a means to interact with each pupil in real time on whatever subject is being taught. The teacher can address that day's lesson using a combination of electronic information that appears on each computer that is correlated to her verbal teaching, and get real-time information about how each member of the class is doing. This data could become a part of a student's database which the students and parents could accesss via the internet from home. The teacher, student and parent would then all be dealing with real-time performance results rather than waiting months for a parents-teachers night to understand where the student needs help. Imagine how much teachers could save by no longer having to grade manual tests.
It's conceivable that this technique could be applied to a single class combining all students for that grade into one large classroom that is taught by one teacher with one or two helpers. These new enlarged class rooms would incorporate several large video screens to take advantage of educational presentations offered off site, either within the school district or outside of it.
These lessons could be made available on the internet so students could review them from home with if tutoring from their parents at home is necessary. The parent could see first hand the results of the mini-questionnaire as well as the full lesson for that day. These are but a few ideas of the many possibilities now available because of modernize telecommunication technologies.
In the past decade there have been tremendous advances in the telecommunications industry. High-speed fiber-optic technology and satellites have opened up the world to near instant communications. We can get in touch with people or information at will from a computer or cell phone. It's time that our system of education students embrace these new methods for teaching and learning because of there potential to improve the teaching and learning process essential to prepare students for the world beyond the classroom.
School districts are burdened with the same problems confronting the public. Those working are being asked to give more while giving up a portion of the benefits to keep a job. That condition will prevail for the foreseeable future. The aforementioned telecommunication advancement along with modern transportation services has resulted in a highly competitive worldwide market. The industrial jobs of yesterday have either been transported to another country where that work can be done much cheaper or their number has been downsize due to computer technologies added to manufacturing processes have eliminate many good paying jobs.
School boards, administrators and teachers must understand that the public is not going to tolerate a status-quo in the school system's pay and benefits when are being forces to take less themselves. These is true for all public jobs.
Don't count on an increase in revenue sharing to save the day, because it won't endure. Revenue sharing isn't going remain tolerable once the public understands how much this outdated practice is costing them. Revenue sharing has drifted from its limited purpose of helping to assure states and communities shared minimum benefits of prosperity in American. The present wasteful and expensive program that has to end.
The good times of the past are just that. To survive today, we all must do the work necessary change or else today may become tomorrows good times.