Wednesday, June 20

Is Bill Gates wrong on schools?

A column making the rounds of other blogs this week is “Schooling Bill Gates,” which proposes to let Bill Gates know what schools really need. Gates, who is funding a quixotic effort to make education a key issue in the 2008 presidential campaign, advocates a standard national curriculum, more school hours, and merit pay for teachers. In the column, which originally appeared in Wiretap Magazine, Sarah Seltzer says what would help students most is actually making public schools more like the private school she attended: small class size, less class time and more extracurricular activities, and independence and respect for classroom teachers. While the column is long on ideas and a little shorter on policy, Seltzer does hint that improving the quality of life for teachers might do as much to attract and retain them as increasing their salaries — a dimension of the teacher-pay issue that is rarely discussed.

Seltzer writes that some of her ideas were borne of her year teaching English in the Bronx as a Teaching Fellow; she also blogged her experience, which she summed up as “not soooo horrible.”

1 comment:

Seth said...

I have to agree with Seltzer on most of her points. Especially, with the rigorous testing schedule of NYC high schools during the spring semester (midterms, finals, regents), I don't see classes being able to continue at full force unless they were indeed smaller. The manager vs. managed idea is also pretty genius. Giving teachers more respect is vital to improving our education system. In many of my classes it seems that teachers have to "steal" time in order to teach the subject matter that they love. It is that stolen time that is often the most enlightening. Passionate teachers make for much more passionate students. I