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NATIONAL TASK FORCE ON PUBLIC EDUCATION COMMENTARY

The Task force on Public Education which has co-chair Janet Napolitano who is the Governor of the state of Arizona released this report which has lots of things that I agree with and some things that I do not.

The report came back with a bunch of recommendations that includes providing Pre-School and Full-Day Kindergarten for all students, national set standards, highly qualified teachers, and making changes to the school year just to name a few.

Changes to the school year I think is a really good thing that we have to do in order to get better graduates out of high school. I really do think the more days we send our kids in the earlier grade levels, the better off we will be. I would set the maximum days a Kindergarten through Eight-grade student should go is 200 which is up from the traditional 180 we have now. The report does talk about year-round schooling as a way to fix the educational system, but even I have read articles where school districts had great success why using year round schooling. The Knowledge is Power Program also gets discussed which I think it a great idea. Students in that program do go to school from 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM and including a half day on Saturday. That model is something that 100% should be looked at.

The report says all children should come ready to learn and that is correct. This is a very tough thing to have happen. Poverty along with a low enrollment rate of 3-5 year olds in Pre-School is the culprit here. Fixing the poverty problem is certainly no easy task and something I will not get into any details about. The report wants universal Pre-school and Kindergarten which is the right thing to do, but it is going to be costly which is the big problem.

National set standards is the heart of my educational plan. My idea of a core curriculum links colleges together with high schools by making the college level classes taken by a high school student a new set standard which I think all students can take and excel in. The report talks about three ways of linking colleges with high schools. The first one is called an Academic Head Start on College where they combine they combine the last few years of high school with the first two years of college. Love this idea, but it is a tiny bit different than mine because of the way I set up the curriculum. The second idea is the Accelerated Career/Technical College pathway. This is for students that need some specialized training and no four-year degree. I like this idea as well and is certainly not something I have come up with. The final idea talked about is called the College in the Community pathway. This is another interesting idea that allows students in the senior year do some paid work experience or volunteer work while still do some learning. I do not like it as much as my idea though. I do think that all high schools need to get all students ready for college if they do decide to go, but not all job do require a college degree and pay well.

I 100% feel that it is going to be impossible to insure that all classrooms have a highly qualified teacher in it. I never did like this idea in the No Child Left Behind bill. The more and more I hear or see the see the words “highly qualified teacher” the more I think of a teacher that has been teaching for over 5 years in the school system with a proven track record of good grades in the classroom. That alone excludes anyone just graduating from college, but those people are needed to be hired to take place of teachers that quit or retire from the school system.

Schools need to connect better with families and communities. The report says this and I agree with it. This section of the reports talks about early prevention of students with learning problems is a good thing and will save money down the road. Poverty and the economic condition of the school district area also come into play with trying to connect well with families and the community they live in. Again that is not an easy thing to fix.

The report also says that to achieve this the federal government needs to spend 325 billion over a ten-year period for all things they recommend. To get this program to work for all students, I do think you will easily wind up spending WAY more than that.

In the end this report was good overall, I hope President Bush and the Secretary of Education look at this report and certainly look at things such as a national set standard for students and pass it.

SOURCES

Kossan, Pat , and Chip Scutari”National school plan suggested” Arizona Republic (2005) n. pag. Online. Internet. August 23, 2005
Available: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0823governor23.html

Brown, Cynthia G. , Elena Rocha, and Amanda Sharkey”Getting Smarter, Becoming Fairer A progressive Education Agenda for a Stronger Nation” Center For American Progress (2005) n. pag. Online. Internet. August 2005
Available: http://www.americanprogress.org/atf/cf/%7BE9245FE4-9A2B-43C7-A521-5D6FF2E06E03%7D/TASKFORCEREPORTFINAL.PDF