In my 10 years of working schools and attending teacher conventions in 27 states, I observed a cross section of education. The best schools with the highest test scores, percentage of graduates and the percentage of graduates attending college were the students that attended religious based schools. The atmosphere was different, and the schools were much quieter, more serious about learning and students showed more respect for authority.
I noticed some other significant differences. There were no student cars on campus. These schools did not have extracurricular activities, such as sports. These things prevented someone from being jealous of the best-dressed kid, the star athlete or the kid that had the newest or nicest car.
During the same period, then Governor Mark White of Texas also noticed this and commissioned a panel led by Ross Perot to study what the state could do to improve education. Mr. Perot was a strong advocate of the “no pass, no play” reform. Students were to maintain passing grades in order to participate in extracurricular activities. He was against rewarding students and teachers for success, for that was what they were supposed to do. He felt that dumping more money into an already broken system only produces more of the same failures.
Some of the findings that the commission revealed were:
School uniforms. Uniforms promote good discipline, reduce violence, put more focus on academics, suppress individuality and identify who belongs on campus and who does not.
Raise the driving age to 18. This would cut gas consumption, highway deaths and auto insurance by more than 30 percent. This would decrease the number of kids hanging out at night, and quite possibly, they would study more, by not having cars and drivers licenses.
Put schools on the quarter system. Stagger the quarters, so one-fourth of the students is on break at different times. This would have students attending school 240 days a year instead of the current 180-day school term. This would also give businesses a constant year around source of teen employees.
By using this quarter system, you would get full use of these multi-million dollar facilities, by using them 12 months out of a year instead of six months. You would need one-third fewer schools, saving one-third of administrative costs and teacher salaries. The average taxpayer works 12 months a year to get a year’s pay. Why shouldn’t teachers work all year?
Billy C. Tanner
Send your thoughts to P.O. Box 929, Hartselle, AL 35640 or email to email@example.com. Signed comments can be included as Letters to the Editor; unsigned ones in our E-Sound Off.