Back in April, we presented our education manifesto. Well, we’ve now revised and extended it, working with Mr. H.O. Hell and thanks to the assistance of a plate of Shaag Bajee.
Partly, this is a response to the mistakes of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He believes that the problem with the schools is primarily managerial. “Just give me control of the schools,” he seems to think, “and I’ll get some real managers in there. They’ll put the fear of God in those teachers and then we’ll see some real learning start to happen.”
Here, then, is our plan:
- Universal Head Start and pre-K education, so all kids enter kindergarten well-prepared.
- Elementary school should concentrate on reading, writing, arithmetic and Spanish. Secondary emphasis should be on PE, health, citizenship and socialization. The object is to turn out good citizens who are prepared for high school.
- We think that “teaching to the test” is ok, as long as the tests measure the skills we want the kids to have.
- The “hard” sciences should be added in high school. The objective is to turn out students prepared for college.
- We support a universal dress code and system-wide uniforms, provided at no cost to the parents.
- No more social promotion.
- There should be annual standardized testing throughout the system, not to measure the individual students nor to punish their teachers, but to learn what educational methods are working best.
- The Department of Education should get rid of dangerous teachers, but provide all teachers with due process. We think “rubber rooms” are a necessary part of due process. Union protections must be respected.
- The best teachers should be rewarded with recognition, not more money. We want dedicated career teachers, not greedy ambitious ones. We like second career teachers.
- Teachers shouldn’t be treated like crap.
- There should be no tenure. But keeping a teaching job should not be contingent on exceptional performance.
Principals and administrators
- The schools chancellor should be an educator.
- Vice principals should be managers.
- Principals should be fired for not meeting objective job requirements.
- There should be an office dedicated to helping principals do their job better and overcome their problems. It’s better to help a principal succeed than to get rid of them for not succeeding.
- We believe in a completely heterogeneous school system, so we would institute widespread busing and eliminate school choice.
- We support tracking: vocational schools for those not suited for an academic track; 600 schools for discipline problems; Special Ed for those with learning problems. We have serious reservations about Gifted & Talented and selective schools because of their elitist image.
- We think all schools should have metal detectors. That way, no parent will gloat “My kid goes to the school without metal detectors.”