One of the most important aspects to any community is its education system. If the schools aren’t effective in educating the next generations of citizens, then the communities will not succeed to it fullest capabilities.
Our professional politicians have not been able to find solutions to help our education system. Over the decades their solutions have been to spend more money, add more administration and add more responsibility to teachers without giving them assistance. Its time to look at different solutions.
• Class Sizes – We keep hearing class sizes are too big. For us to make class sizes smaller we need more classrooms and more teachers. There could be another alternative, do we give teachers help with trained and educated teacher’s assistants in the classrooms. This would also give teachers more help and time with preparation.
• School Year – We need to look at our school year model. We have used the same school year model for over 100 years. Studies have shown the long summer break has a negative effect on retention. Maybe we look at a shorter summer break with more breaks during the year.
• Vocational Trades – Its time to bring vocational trades back into the school system! Automotive, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, etc.…needs to be back in education. We can partner with our local trade unions to provide classes and mentor programs. These trades are in high demand and will help students build rewarding careers.
• Budget/Teacher Pay – The overall Department of Education budget needs a full audit to make sure we are spending your money wisely and efficiently. We also need to pay teachers a higher wage. We want the best teachers teaching our children and developing the next generations of Oregonians, they should be compensated accordingly. One of the most important jobs in the state and we pay them less than a lot of other professions.
• Bigger Picture – Do schools make communities succeed or do communities make schools succeed? In areas where schools are not performing, we need to not only look how we can help the schools but how we can help the parents in the community. This is where our economic plan will make the biggest impact. We need to help the socio-economic issues of communities so parents can be more engaged with their child’s schoolwork.
Of course, these are the only pieces to our education plan, but they are the beginning of the conversation. The state needs to have a plan, listen to the different communities, and help them with their individual needs. What works in one place may not work in another.