I've put this meme off for weeks now because I wanted to really take the time to think about what I would want policy makers to understand about education. However, that time may not materialize until next summer so I decided to simply take the plunge. Organized chaos set me this task, but I was also fascinated by splatypus, kiri8, and Michaele's takes on it.
As for my thoughts:
1.In a well taught classroom class size does matter. I'm aware of the studies that have shown mixed results. However, if we expect teachers to truly meet individual needs of students, conference with each of them in reading and writing, differentiate for the varied needs, and communicate regularly with parents then they can't have thirty students in a class.
2. Money matters. This is true when we consider state level, school districts, individual schools, and students' families. That money needs to be spent well, there is no question, but money makes a difference.
3. Test scores only tell us a small bit about students, teachers, and schools. No test, no matter how well designed, is going to really paint a picture of a school or of a student. There's no simple, on the cheap, way to measure the learning of individuals. There is a reason why special education testing is very time consuming. That's how we really learn about a child.
4. Kids' educational opportunities are hugely impacted by their early years. There is a lot of brain research that has shown how critical the first three years of a child's life are to their future. We should be doing something to help families and children during those critical years.
5. Public schools are doing an amazing job. They deserve more respect and accolades than they have seen in recent years. Visit one. Visit often. Get to know the amazing teachers and support staff. Ask them questions. Recognize the challenges they face and the efforts they put forth. It's worth your time.