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What we can do to improve our schools

By Staff
Rep. Ronald Grantland, Guest columnist
Almost everyone remembers hearing stories about what it was like to go to school back in the "good ole days." Back then there was usually one school for all the children in town, only one or two teachers, and one room to teach many different grades.
Education in our state has come a long way since those days. Today, Alabama's children have learning opportunities that older Alabamians would never have dreamed of.
Each year, the biggest issue during the legislative session is how we can improve Alabama's public schools, and this year will be no different. Alabama ranks 43rd in the nation in the amount of money we spend per child. It's no secret that our schools need more funding, but they must be funded wisely.
We must see that the money goes not only to where it is needed the most, but also to where it will have the largest positive impact.
Spending that directly benefits the classroom such as facility upgrades, better instructional materials, and an improved learning environment will create positive results in the classroom.
They will allow our teachers to teach better, our students to learn better, and result in higher test scores.
One of the most influential people in a child's life is a teacher. Alabama has some of the finest teachers anywhere, but we must be able to attract more to our state and be able to keep them here.
Our state ranks 47th in teacher pay, and far too often we lose quality teachers to other states that pay more.
We can ensure that our schools retain good teachers by adequately compensating them.
Funding must benefit both teaching and learning and Alabama must keep pace with the rest of the nation. Georgia spends thousands of dollars more per classroom than we do.
However, all the funding in world means nothing without student discipline. Of course discipline starts at home with parents, but there are ways in which we can increase the cooperation between the primary sources of discipline, parents and teachers. By working together, we can make sure that a child receives the motivation to learn both at home and in the classroom.
In fact, there are ways in which we can all become involved in the education of today's youth. I urge you to become a student mentor, offer to spend time with children after school, or teach a child to learn how to read. Through community involvement and spending wisely, we can ensure that the children of today have some "good ole days" of their own to speak of.