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Holiday wish list for educators puts their students first

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The Thanksgiving turkey and fixings now a memory, educator activists are turning their thoughts to their holiday wishes for their students.  But these “gifts” don’t come from Santa. This wish list is EdVotes’ take on what Congress, state lawmakers, and parents should get for students and schools this year.

Provide adequate school funding to provide all students the resources they need.

BowEducators strive every day, often against long odds, to provide quality services to increased numbers of disadvantaged students and students with special needs. Yet the federal government and lawmakers in state after state continue to reduce their investment in public schools.

At least 34 states are providing less funding per student for the 2013-14 school year than they did before the recession hit, and 13 of these states have cut per-student funding by more than 10 percent, according to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The federal government, meanwhile, has also decreased its commitment to students. This year, sequestration slashed funding across-the-board for education by nearly $3 billion even though schools are now serving nearly 6 million more students.

Ensure students have access to quality early education.

holly_leaves_cornerThe research is clear — providing a high quality education for children before they turn five yields significant long-term benefits for the student and the economy. So what’s the federal government’s penny-wise, pound-foolish response? Sequester cuts have resulted in the elimination of Head Start services for 57,000 low-income children this school year, cutting 1.3 million days from Head Start center calendars and laying off or reducing pay for more than 18,000 employees. And just 14 states require school districts to offer full-day kindergarten.

Increase opportunities for parents and educators to work together.

downloadStudents benefit when parents and educators work together. Whether it’s passing bond measures in Laredo, Texas, to decrease class size and add classroom technology, reclaiming the board of education in Bridgeport, Connecticut, so that it is listens to educator and parent input, or holding a national day of action next week to demand a voice in decisions that affect students and schools, educators and parents recognize their power to advocate on behalf of students is greater when they work collectively.

Said Arizona teacher and National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel after last month’s Bridgeport school board elections: These elections “will determine whether parents and teachers have the chance to innovate and collaborate to increase students’ success and improve Bridgeport schools or whether special interests who push one-size-fits all reforms will continue to rule the day.”

Increase access to next-generation classroom technology to help ensure students develop the skills necessary to compete in the digital age.

ornament3In today’s hyper-connected world, giving schools access to the Internet is not enough. Students and educators require high-capacity broadband connectivity to engage in classroom activities, distance education, and blended, mobile and virtual learning opportunities. It’s for that reason that the National Education Association has urged the Federal Communications Commission to support President Obama’s proposal to expand and modernize the E-Rate program.

Pass immigration reform legislation so that the DREAMer students in our nation’s schools can reach their full potential.

candy cane.jpgEach year more than 60,000 DREAMer students, brought here as children, graduate from high school. For far too long, educators have witnessed the fear and distress our broken immigration system has caused our students, their families and our communities. These students are valedictorians, honors students, idealistic, hard-working youth. It’s time to make fair and comprehensive immigration reform a reality.

Reader Comments

  1. Denise

    Iam a speech pathologist that has worked in the public schools for the last 27 years I have constantly seen less and less being given to teachers to supplement what is needed in their classroom . The answer for these children in today’s world is technology they all seem to relate to iPads laptops smart tables in SmartBoard anything that can be given to enhance the learning environment through Technology would be wonderful!

  2. Peter

    Get rid of CCSS. Get rid of the testing program that is CCSS’s whole purpose in existing. Stop pretending that you can have one without the other– saying that you support CCSS but oppose testing is like saying you support knives but oppose cutting. A program of high stakes testing used to trigger the dismantling of public education and the redirection of tax dollars into private corporate pockets is not some aberrant add-on– it’s what CCSS was created to facilitate. It must all go.

  3. charlie23

    High on my list would be seeing VAM/APPR schemes tossed out completely. This stuff is getting good teachers fired and destroying teaching careers all across America. So the wish would be for fair evaluations for teachers.

  4. Grace

    I think if you dig a little deeper you will find that CC is completely related to tests. The same companies that provide you with your CC curriculum and CC text books will be selling your school CC tests too. I think you will also discover that the early education standards are not age appropriate, and do not allow for kids to develop at different rates (as we know kids do.) You can want to make standards more “rigorous” all you want, but you can’t change brain development.

  5. Amy

    I am excited about the increased rigor and challenges that the Common Core State Standards will provide. That being said, I have serious concerns about their implementation. Teachers will need TIME to learn new instructional strategies to teach students to reach these higher levels. They need time for professional development, time for collaboration, and certainly time to hone their skills before we start including the test scores that result from these standards in with teacher evaluations. I hope we give the CCSS, and teachers a chance – otherwise we are going to end up with just another failed education initiative, and more egg on all of our faces. Unfortunately, the teachers seem to be the ones left to clean up the mess.

  6. charli

    I work in an urban high school. I teach 6 classes each with 30 students. We are lacking basic necessities like copy paper and pencils for students who never seem to have one. Attendance is poor and students come to us very unprepared in terms of both academics and behavior. If this country wants to educate this population, we need to decrease class sizes by hiring more teachers and building alternative schools to segregate students in terms of abilities and behaviors. I have some students who are fully capable of handling challenging content but I spend much of my time breaking up fights and redirecting. I am haunted by the kids who are cheated by this system and I am completely exhausted by the middle of each day. None of the kids are able to reach their potential the teachers in this environment are more like police officers than teachers, we could do more for our kids if we could work with smaller groups and the students with severe behavior problems could be helped in an environment with more counselors and more 1:1 time with the teacher

  7. Cindy

    I am thankful that I live and work in a wonderful school district. While we (as a district) have certainly felt the cuts and budgetary strains, we started at a very healthy level; comparatively speaking. I understand that many districts nationwide are not so fortunate. While I do not have the answers to the distribution of funds, I hope that monies will be directed to geopgraphic areas of greatest need. I am in no position to scold Mike and his comments above because I do not live in his area and do not share his daily frustrations. Again, I hope that a solution to the problems that plague his district is forthcoming so that teaching and learning can take place. Looking for good things in education in 2014.

  8. Mike Hall

    We need to enforce the present laws of our land. The strain of all the ILLEGAL immigrants on our resources( education, medical, utilities, infrastructure, etc…) is the problem. It is destroying the ability of Americans to be able to get ahead through hard work.

    • twinkie1cat

      Mike, your attitude is that of a selfish Republican and not worthy of an educator. We have an obligation as a nation that calls itself Christian to treat all children, regardless of background, nationality, or ability with respect and to provide them with the education they need in order to be successful. We have no business even asking them if they are in America legally. What would you do, leave them to run the streets illiterate simply because they didn’t have papers? Children are the next generation of those who will serve us as we age. They are businesspeople, doctors and teachers. Where they come from is no one’s business. If they come to your class, you should be grateful for them and teach them.

  9. Brenda smith

    We must get rid of common core, and teach the children something besides being good test takers. Also, Title I and Special Education monies must be restored, for the sake of the children, who are getting left behind

    • Angela

      Thank you Brenda. I have been a special education teacher for 25 years. The need has grown and the funding has gotten smaller. I spend a lot of money out of pocket to make sure my students get what they need. Tennessee lottery funded preschool classrooms have more money than they can spend and spend it on things they don’t use in the classroom. The money should be spread out to include special education and other areas of the at risk school population.

    • Linda

      Getting rid of Common Core does not solve the testing problem. Common Core State Standards are not the test. They are standards for learning that all students should reach at a given grade level. They are challenging, and as a teacher in the middle of transitioning to new standards,I am working harder than I ever have. Education should be left to the EDUCATORS, not the politicians, not private industry, not special interest groups. We know what is best for the children that we serve and are the most able to deliver it. What we need are resources ($$$) and time.

      • Sharyle Burwell

        We need to stop the ridiculous Race To The Top! I want all my students to learn to the best of their ability BUT we need many different paths available for all students to reach their potential!
        We also need to rethink Common Core! Many of the standards are developmentally inappropriate, not written by educators, unproven and designed to cause a catastrophic change in education as well as remove good qualified teachers from the teaching field and replace them with TFAers just ask Chicago and NY! The scripted curriculum and testing that comes in conjunction with common core standards make me very suspect about who is making a profit from this! I believe it’s all about the MONEY, HONEY!

      • Peter

        Linda, you do know, don’t you, that teachers had no meaningful input at all into the creation of CCSS. I agree completely with your comments that educators (teachers, actually) should be driving the bud, not politicians and money interests. That is one excellent argument for ditching the CCSS, which were created without use of research or teacher input.


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