This was written by Elizabeth Walters, a proud graduate of Central Columbia High School in Bloomsburg, PA, Smith College, and the teacher-certification program of the University of New Orleans. Walters is a journalist and a teacher at Chalmette High School in St. Bernard Parish, LA. This was originally published in CounterPunch , a provocative political newsletter and website.
How can we improve public education for our children?
The answers to this question — and the perspectives on the current quality of public education in the United States — are as varied and individualized as the 55 million students who attend public school in this country. Recently, legislators in Louisiana, like their counterparts in many other states, have sought to improve their state’s educational climate. They have good reason for doing so — in its annual Kids COUNT ratings, meant to evaluate quality of life for children in each state and based on measurements that include educational indices, the Annie E. Casey Foundation consistently ranks Louisiana as 49th (thank you, Mississippi).
As a public school teacher in Louisiana, I can think of many ways to improve public schools here, and I heard the same sentiments voiced by fellow teachers during a rally outside the Capitol in Baton Rouge as the legislation was being debated on April 4. It seems self-evident that one of the best ways to to improve public education would be to allocate more resources for public schools — to improve technology, to expand professional-development opportunities for teachers, to buy classroom supplies, up-to-date textbooks and all the other materials that come with a good education.
Perhaps one of the best ways to improve public education would be to loosen the strictures that tie student and school evaluations to test preparation and instead to allow teachers to instruct students in the sort of project-based units supported by educational research and the sort