Although I'm writing on the quality of schools in Collier County, Florida, I think every school system across the country would be wise to follow this advice. Right now, only a few school systems and a few states even bother to strive to be among the best. Nothing would make me happier than for every district and every state to compete for number one. Only then will American education achieve the level that every child deserves.
Without further ado, here is where I'm coming from regarding public school education:
1. The #1 factor that effects home value is the quality of the area's public schools. Also, employers who provide high-wage jobs prefer excellent schools, because that is what high-quality employees demand. So if we are ever to strengthen our local economy, we have to make substantial changes in our schools.
2. As a county (and a state) we need to change our goals and focus so that we can make Collier County one of the top 10 school systems in the nation. Florida as a state is currently ranked 35 out of 50, I believe. So if the state says we should zig, my vote will be for us to zag.
3. Northern Virginia has the top public schools in the country. We should find out what they are doing and emulate them.
4. Small classes promote learning, and large classes hinder it. We should aim for 12 students in a class, or perhaps 16 maximum. My sister is a local teacher, and one of her class has 30 students. That's simply unacceptable.
This isn't just an idea I came up with off the top of my head, by the way. It is how we have made Coine Language School (www.coinelanguage.com) #1 in quality and results in its field. We strongly encourage our clients to have classes of 8 students, and we guarantee our results if they comply.
5. As a nation, we pay our teachers much too little; even more so as a state. We have to radically improve teacher pay, and also expect our teachers to be of the highest caliber - the sharpest minds in our society. Another radical idea, but right now we are living with the alternative.