Table of Contents

Systemic Policies

1. Accreditation Regulations

There should be a government-determined nationwide standard for accrediting educational institutions of all types. The purpose of this accreditation is to insure that all such accredited schools are adequately teaching their subject matter at levels which are considered functionally efficient by this government agency. Schools falling below functionally efficient levels will have one year to return to a level of minimum functional efficiency. If they fail to come up to passing levels of functional efficiency by this time, they will lose their accreditation until they show that they can educate their students to functionally efficient levels in the subjects taught.

The minimum functional efficiency level required for the federal accreditation of an educational institution should be defined as a point in which at least 75% of its students score an average of at least 75% in all test materials and critical assignments issued. Testing materials, past and present, critical assignments (such as papers, reports, etc.) as well as any relevant grading criteria must be submitted for review to this federal accreditation agency upon its request so that a sense of the comprehensiveness and adequacy of testing and grading could be gained by the federal agency.

Individual states would be able to develop higher, more stringent standards for educational institutions to meet in order to receive state accreditation, however, states may not force any educational institution to meet the state standards in any way including through the use of fines, revocation of licenses, arrests or other such means. States may, of course, withhold state funds to any educational institution within the state that does not meet the state’s accreditation standards or for any other reason the state may choose.

Any educational institution which lacks accreditation from any government entity, even if it has never been accredited or has no intention of seeking accreditation in the future, cannot be required to close down or even modify its activities in any way. All educational institutions can educate as they see fit. Accreditation is only a means by which the public can be reasonably assured that an individual who has been educated in an accredited institution has achieved a functional understanding of the topics covered in those courses that the school says the student has successfully completed. Students attending unaccredited institutions may take standardized tests for their grade level (for a fee) from accredited institutions, and if passed, such students could be designated as accredited.

All educational facilities who seek to gain or maintain accreditation would be required to pay an annual fee to this government agency responsible for accreditations. This fee will be a small percentage (perhaps .1%) of the total revenue generated by the educational facility each year. This fee could be paid retroactively, meaning that payment for accreditation bestowed for one academic year would not be due until the educational facility has determined its total revenues for that same academic year.

The non-accredited status of any school must be disclosed (throughout the period of non-compliance) on all official documents relating to application, school registration, course registration, billing and receipts, even if the school does not intend to become accredited or reaccredited.

Every educational institution (accredited or not) must be listed in a public database along with all accreditations that are currently applicable for each one.  Each institution’s current address and department telephone numbers must also be included in this public database.

All accredited schools should be required to provide, either free or for a fee, written information (could be on a website) answering common questions.  Included in this information should be things like staff numbers and titles, school programs and summaries, a brief school history and statistics about enrollment, scores and other relevant matters.  Enough information should be made available so that a person would be able to make an informed decision.
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2. National Education Standards

Every level of government except for the federal government (state, county, and city) has the right to, and should, implement certain educational standards that primary school students are required to meet. However, the more local levels of government cannot weaken but are permitted to only strengthen standards set by higher levels of government. The federal government should be allowed to develop their own standards, but compliance among the states should be voluntary.

Consequently, the highest level of government (the federal government) must set the lowest standards. Federal standards or benchmarks should be set only to ensure basic, functional literacy in at least 90% of all subjects of study throughout the student’s primary (defined here as being from birth through 12th grade) education career. Students who do not meet this minimum requirement are not eligible for graduation and cannot receive a diploma.
Furthermore, the federal government should only implement one set of primary education standards to be met upon graduation from primary school. The federal government should not put forward any other sets of standards to be met upon completion of the 4th grade, the 8th grade or any other point before graduation from primary school. Of course, the federal government could publish guidelines indicating where students in every grade level should be academically in order to be on track towards meeting the federal standards upon graduation, but no punitive measures can be taken by the federal government if these guidelines are not met or followed.

Individual states, counties, cities and school districts could set and enforce as many standards as they want and they could test students as often as they would like.

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3. ‘Primary’ and ‘Secondary’ School Redefinitions

Primary Education

‘Primary’ education should refer to a child’s formal general educational career from birth all the way up through age 12. The core curriculum for this phase of education should basically be the same for everyone. Included in this phase would be all the mandatory core courses in all subjects necessary for a firm foundation for literacy and civility as well as continued education in coursework that becomes progressively more tailored to each student’s interests and abilities.

Kindergarten Should Be Mandatory

Kindergarten should be a mandatory grade level for all children because of the continued recognition of the extremely high capacity for efficient learning at these younger ages. Learning while younger is always easier than learning when older. The natural progression to more advanced curricula and standards at these younger ages testifies to the fact that children (more of whom have attended preschool) are definitely able to perform and thrive at these higher academic levels. Wanting the best for our children means that we must harness this great potential for learning at these younger ages.

Preschool Should Probably Also Be Mandatory, At Least Highly Encouraged

The same that was said for Kindergarten above could be said about preschool.  In preschool, the major emphasis would be on social behavior skills (sharing, asking, etc.) and hygienic skills (rear wiping, hand washing, shoe tying, etc.) Preschool would naturally be more of a playtime/daycare environment rather than an academic one, but preschoolers could definitely learn some numbers letters and sounds as well.

Secondary Education

‘Secondary’ education should refer to formal instruction provided from around age 13 through age 19. It should still include mandatory courses which focus on perfecting literacy and civility, but this curriculum would consist progressively less of these mandated subjects, and include progressively more courses and topics that students would choose for themselves. Of course, students would choose from approved lists of topics so that a balanced education could be maintained. The idea is to allow students, as teenagers, to become knowledgeable about every type of occupation in which they may have an interest, including having some hands-on experience, so that by the time they graduate from secondary school (namely, by age 20 according to these proposals), students should have a pretty good idea of what they would like to do professionally for a career.

Students in secondary schooling should be progressively exposed to actual work (like an apprentice) in a field in which they they show an interest. This would allow them to determine whether they actually like that field, gain work experience and a work ethic, and potentially earn some money as well.

First 2 Years of College Required Under Secondary Education

A secondary education should satisfy the general education requirements for all further optional educational specialization. This means that the first and second years of college should be reclassified as being under the secondary education umbrella, thus their completion would be required to graduate from secondary school.

Secondary schooling should be designed to provide the degree of general and specialized educational training necessary to gain access to an average job that, upon the gaining of more job experience, would enable a worker to earn enough of an income to support a family with a spouse and two children. The ‘rule of thumb’ should be that job experience rather than further academic training is needed after a successful completion of secondary school. Of course, many factors are involved in making only a secondary education sufficient for the general job market, but the point is that a secondary education should be sufficiently tailored to each student’s interest, that it should not present a significant problem to land a job in the student’s chosen area of interest.

Terminology for Educational Degrees

A ‘secondary’ educational degree should be equivalent and interchangeable with the terms ‘General Education Degree’ (GE) and ‘High School Diploma’ or ‘High School Degree’. This level of educational achievement should be expected of every member of the population. General Education Degrees and Associate Degrees (current 2-year college equivalent) would be classified as equivalent educational levels of achievement but Associate Degrees would indicate a measure of specialization within a specific field of study.

Mandatory Secondary Education

Secondary education should be mandatory for every human being on the planet. It is critical for the maintenance of continued civility among all human populations.

Tertiary Education

If further training is required or desired, then more specialized ‘tertiary’ schooling would be available. Tertiary education should refer to all optional education beyond or outside of the primary or secondary education levels, such as trade schools, colleges, and universities. None of these institutions should provide remedial primary or secondary level education courses at public expense. Instead, students needing such courses should be required to enroll at primary or secondary educational institutions for their fulfillment.

Grade Level Nomenclature Change

It is hard to justify calling 1st grade by that title because kindergarten and even preschool are becoming much more popular and increasing more mandatory, as they should be. It is undeniably helpful to have a grade nomenclature system using numbers as opposed to some other system that uses descriptive words like preschool (for preschool), kindergarten (for kindergarten), learning to read and write (for 1st grade), etc. But because of the advances in knowledge, a better understanding of child development, and a greater awareness of the benefits of early education/intervention to prevent undesirable characteristics in children later in life, these super-absorbent, pre-1st grade years of a child’s life could be better utilized with certain curricular activities. But should pre-school be called 1st grade? If so, we may then run into the same problem in future decades when perhaps some other curricula are proposed for yet younger children.

It may be most logical and most useful to have a ‘grade’ nomenclature system using numbers which are the same as a child’s age itself. For example, a 10thth grader would be the same as a 10-year old. An immediate objection may be that such a system would stigmatize students who fall behind. There are several ways to mitigate such stigmatization by fundamental changes in the educational system as described elsewhere in these proposals. But suffice it to say, that the current grade nomenclature is directly tied to age today, albeit in a more mathematically complex, and thus obscure, way. Currently, for example, by merely subtracting 5 from the age (upon entrance of a grade) of whatever child is under discussion, his/her grade schedule can be determined. In the end, grade progress discrepancies would be more apparent if age and grade level nomenclature were to be perfectly correlated. However, by adopting this new naming system, we could eliminate this mental overhead, simplify the nomenclature, immunize it against similar problems occurring in the future and extend such a system all the way up through universities as well. Terms like freshman, sophomore, etc., could be eliminated as well.

Educational courses geared for one year old children could be labeled as 1st grade level courses (or even 1st year level courses), while courses designed for two year-olds would be called 2nd grade level work, and so on. Though there may not be any formal educational coarse work for such young people, the nomenclature for these grades should be left open for future possibilities. Nevertheless, even at present, such grades would consist more of babysitting, behavioral guidance, and story-telling than specific academic goals. Ten year-olds who have stayed on schedule would be doing 10th grade level work. Perhaps some references to grade levels could be abandoned in exchange for merely references to a student’s age, although some students will always be behind or ahead of schedule.)

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4. Academic Year Definition, Length, Vacation Schedule, and Daily Start Time

The definition of a school year should be the same as a calendar year, running from January 1st through December 31st rather than from July 1st through June 30th or any other such dates. A January through December school year is much more logical and would make referring to school years much simpler. People would be able to refer to a 2004 school year rather than a 2004-2005 school year.

Under this proposal, students would suffer no increased academic regression (forgetting) than under a traditional calendar because a long summer recess would merely fall within a grade rather than between grades.

However, to further mitigate the problem of student regression during extended vacations, vacations should be spread out a little more evenly throughout the school year, making summer vacations shorter. The school year calendar should be organized so that schools will be in session on all days except weekends, major holidays, the last two weeks of December, the first two weeks of January, Easter Week, the month of July and one week off in October.

In all, there should be 200 days of classroom instruction per year, an increase of 20 days over the current schedule.

Formal primary level academic education should begin no sooner than at 8:30 am daily and should go through to 4:00 pm.

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5. Class Sizes Increase With Age

The general rule regarding class sizes should be that the number of students per class should increase as grade level increases, most especially in the first few grades. Preschool should have 10 students and kindergarten should have 14 students per class. First grade would have 18 per class, second grade would have 22, third grade would have 26, fourth grade would have 28, fifth grade would have 30 and perhaps all succeeding grades would also have 30 students or at least increase at a rate of 2 students per grade level. This would enable teachers to better ensure that their younger students properly develop a solid foundational base of knowledge for their future education and development. It is imperative that more time and effort be invested during the younger years of people’s lives so that they are properly trained to make their future behavior much easier and pleasant to deal with.

These numbers would only be guidelines and teachers should be able to determine the actual number of students in their classes each year, though their pay would be determined, in part, on the number of students they educate (see ‘Performance Based Teacher Pay’).

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6. School Sizes – Average of 350 Students per School

Primary schools should generally aim to have 350 students enrolled on each campus with a maximum number of between 500-600 students. A small upward trend for the higher grade schools (middle and high schools) would be acceptable. More students than this would tend to result in greater attitude and social behavior problems, feelings of alienation among students, and loss of community feelings as both students and staff would tend to develop impersonal or distant feelings between each other. Also, large student populations tend to foster a sense of chaos and carelessness among students. Larger populations increase the chances that multiple ‘bad’ students will find each other and form persistent groups unified by their common rebellion. These ‘bad’ students, discussing and planning among themselves, often causes problems for the rest of the students and staff, problems that may not have been as pronounced had a smaller school size reduced the chances that this ‘bad’ group of students would have formed.

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7. School Principals Need More Authority

School principals need more authority over all major school operations and budgeting, especially in the hiring and firing of all employees. They need more discretionary control over their budgets. They need more direct control over the hiring and firing (or transferring out) of any category of employee, including teachers. But first, principals should be thoroughly trained and tested before they assume the job on all relevant principal job duties. If, after the appropriate training, the bureaucracy doesn’t feel they could trust their judgement, then the testing requirements should be revised to make it harder.

Naturally, checks and balances should be instituted and adequate appeals processes (such as for firing employees) need to exist, but the principal’s decisions should be implemented by default and then reviewed in real time (or as close to it) by higher authorities and reversed if found to be faulty. If it turns out that the principal was wrong in the decision, then appropriate actions (anything from reminders to dismissal) could be taken.

This principle should apply to all job titles, whatever they may be. Reliance upon on the job training should not be the default and standard way to train a person for a high profile, high importance job, especially a job function on which many other people directly depend.

To increase quality performance of personnel who are important hubs in a very bureaucratic system, like LAUSD, a natural healthy remedy for many ills is to institute a permanent system to constantly seek to simplify all relevant procedures (without actually changing the spirit of the regulations). The frustrations of

A better alternative is for the bureaucracy to streamline its rules and regulation so that shortcuts are not needed. But the nature of some large organizations, especially LAUSD, is to not be able to even communicate internally to tell itself that something’s wrong.

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8. Teacher Decides Teaching Method

Teachers, in consultation with their school’s principal, should be allowed to use any teaching methods or programs they desire except those that have been expressly disapproved by the school district. No single method should be required to teach any particular subject. For example, the use of phonics or the whole language approach to teaching reading and writing or the use of Open Court teaching programs should not be mandated by a school district, or even school administrators. These options should be left up to the teachers themselves. However, the requirements for what students are expected to know for that grade level would obviously be made known to the teacher who would be charged with making sure that they are met.

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9. Enrollment Questionnaire

As part of the enrollment process into primary and secondary schools, parents should be required to fill out a comprehensive questionnaire about their child’s likes, dislike, learning styles, behaviors, temperament, and a multitude of other characteristics. Such information would increase the chances of the child’s placement with a teacher that is better able to meet those needs and emphasize a child’s strengths. As a general rule, parents should not be able to choose a specific teacher, although they should be encouraged to write down their top two or three favorite teachers (and why) to help the school staff in the potential incorporation of their wishes.

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10. Recess Before Lunch

Elementary schools should schedule their lunch play times before their lunch eating times.  Scheduling this way would result in a greater amount of food eaten, less food waste, and possibly significantly less behavioral and health problems.

The most significant drawback is the logistics of having student gather their lunches and cleaning their hands before eating. However, these are clearly surmountable obstacles and may actually lead to the installation of more wash basins near the lunch areas to encourage students to wash their hands more often, especially before eating. Sometimes having to walk to bathrooms which may be some significant distance away and which may have a reputation for being messy and smelly would be enough of a discouragement for hand washing to make kids decide against it.

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11. Single-Sex Education

The decision to offer some or all classes in a single-sex format should be made at the district and even the individual school level and influenced by the popular demand of parents wanting such a format. However, boys and girls should be allowed to socialize and mingle with each other during breaks, lunch, and before/after school.

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12. Chronologically Diverse Schools and Classrooms

Primary schools and individual classrooms should be more chronologically diverse. Each school should try to have students ranging from pre-school and kindergarten through high school, or at least as wide a range as practical. Individual classrooms should include students across a wider age range (two grade levels) so that the older or more advanced students could help the younger or less advanced ones, while the older less advanced students would not feel overwhelmed by their inabilities to do things expected of their age group. This would help reduce bullying and would result in greater communication between these age groups and reduce the stigma attached to various age groups by members of a different age/grade group. Schools could also utilize the more advanced/high grade students to help teach the less advanced/lower grade students. Valuable social interaction skills may be learned and increases in motivation and self-confidence are likely when children of diverse ages are in the same learning environment.

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13. Schools Archiving Students’ Work

All primary schools should be required to archive and maintain records for each student on at least a yearly basis (though quarterly or even monthly should be encouraged for the younger grades) throughout the student’s enrollment in primary and secondary education. These student academic files would contain samples of virtually all elements of a student’s intellectual development, language, social-emotional development, temperament and personality, and, of course, samples of course work in all areas, including early childhood fine-motor skills such as writing, drawing, coloring, cutting, gluing, etc. Photographs of the student should also be included. It would be nice if video clips of the student could somehow also be included. The school district would be responsible for storing all these original records as well as for their electronic duplication for permanent storage. The family of a student could, at any time, ask to take permanent possession of their child’s original files for any and all previous completed school year(s). The original files for the current school year would be kept by the school and not be eligible for release until electronic duplication has occurred. Upon graduation, the school district would ask the family (if the student is under 20) or ask the student (if he/she had already reached 20 years of age) if they would like to take possession of all their academic files held by the school district(s). If they accept, they may request that the files be sent to any school location within the district to be picked up by the family. If they decline, the files will be held by the district for a period of 10 years from the date of graduation at no charge. During this time, the graduate would have the sole authority to request possession of the files. At the end of this 10-year period, unless the graduate had already requested the files, the school district would make every attempt necessary to recontact the graduate or parents to ask if any of them would want to take these files. If they decline, or if the graduates are deemed unreachable, the original files could then be destroyed.

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14. 2-Day Notice Of New Student For Teacher

Teachers should be given a minimum of 2 working days notice before a new student is placed on their classroom roster. Teachers should have the option to waive this requirement on a case by case basis if they so desire.

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15. Classroom Signs, Schedules, & Clocks

Schools, especially the secondary schools and universities, should be encouraged to have highly visible, luminous signs near the entrances of each classroom informing passersby that the class is currently in session and to be quiet.

Another sign should be placed just outside each classroom door detailing the schedule of classes meeting in that room throughout that term.

Clocks should also be placed outside each classroom or at least in hallways and easily visible from each classroom door so that students would always know the time, especially as they are about to enter the classroom. Clocks should also be place inside classrooms so that they are visible as students enter the class, as well as when they are seated.

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16. Educational Career Charts

Every degree-granting educational institution should make available course requirement charts for virtually every potential academic/career goal such that all academic and other requirements for any given goal would fit onto one sheet of paper.

Perhaps, primary school courses need not be listed on such charts, but secondary level courses should be listed. These charts should be organized in such a way that they are easy to read and so that virtually any student could be able to identify their location on such a chart and use it as a checklist to mark their progress towards their goal.

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17. School Yard Shade Requirements

All primary schools should be required to provide enough shade for all students who want to spend their outdoor time in the shade. Schools should provide enough activities, space, and equipment necessary to satisfy the demand for children who want to play in the shade. Requiring students to be in the sun practically throughout their entire recess time should be prohibited.

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18. Printed Student Term Schedules

All upper primary school and secondary educational institutions should automatically provide their students with their own, personalized, printable schedule of classes. Such schedules should include the full name of the classes, their regular meeting hours, dates for final exams, final drop deadlines, a graphical weekly calendar with the student’s class time slots shaded for quick reference, a list of all relevant holidays and other potential schedule disruptions, regular and special campus library hours and any other significant information relating to that specific school term. All this information should be designed to be able to fit onto one standard sheet of paper and still be easily read.

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19. Corporal Punishment in School

Corporal punishment ought to be allowed in schools only for children less than 10 years old and only if the punishment would not leave any physical damage or permanent harm to the student.

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20. Animal Dissections in Primary School

Students should not be required to dissect animals in primary school in order to complete any core education requirement. However, students who choose to take optional courses that both do require dissections and have made such requirements known in the course description should be required to perform them without objection.

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21. Class, Schedule Change Notification

Schools should immediately notify all enrolled students who are directly affected by a class cancellation, schedule change, meeting place change, etc. through either the mail, e-mail, or telephone as soon as the change is made official. Students should indicate their preference of notification methods during either registration for the term or enrollment in the course. Failure to notify students should result in a minimum 10% refund of all costs associated with the course, including registration, books, and supplies.

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22. Academic Transcripts

All educational institutions should be required to make available to students, upon demand for free or for a nominal fee, their complete unabbreviated transcripts which would include everything related to school work performance including classes, awards, all positive and negative notations, and anything else of significance. These transcripts, while not required to be ‘official’, do need to be in an easy to read format and include at least as much information as is included on official transcripts. All transcripts should keep the use of abbreviations to a minimum or even not use them at all. Codes or other jargon must be fully explained. These documents should be so self-explanatory that all conceivable common and even not-so-common questions should be easily answered through a brief study of the document itself.

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23. Multiple Degrees

No educational institution should institute firm policies preventing students from obtaining an unlimited number of degrees at any level (Associate, Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate, etc). However, private institutions could charge whatever they want for 1st, 2nd and subsequent degrees. Government subsidized institutions should perhaps charge standard rates plus 50% of the subsidized rates for classes required for a 2nd degree (of the same level, for example a 2nd Associate Degree) and charge the unsubsidized, full cost for classes required for a 3rd and subsequent degrees (at the same level).

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24. Calculator Prohibition

Students should be prohibited from using calculators at school until the basic mathematical concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are mastered by hand. Calculators should still be restricted at least for the introductory phases of other mathematical concepts that build directly on these basic concepts. The primary and secondary education curricula should continually ensure that students maintain the ability to manually master these four basic mathematical operations, perhaps with periodic tests during which the use of calculators are prohibited.

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25. School Registration, Business Through the Telephone

Students registering through the telephone, adding or dropping classes, and doing other school business over the phone should be allowed to continue doing similar business over the telephone throughout the school term. No one should be required to appear in person to do something that could have been done though the phone at other times during the term.

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