A new report from the Education Reform Institute (ERI) lays out some solutions for the country’s crumbling schools system, and it’s no easy task.
The ERI reports that there are over 2,600 public and private school districts in the United States.
While a large percentage of districts are located in low-income areas, many are located near universities, and in some cases, in urban areas.
In some cases schools that are near high-income, affluent areas, such as New York City and Los Angeles, have higher student-to-teacher ratios than those that are located far from it.
The report recommends that school districts be able to set their own tuition rates, set their fair-priced lunches, and implement a new curriculum that promotes diversity, inclusion, and inclusionary principles.
However, it says the system is not working, and more needs to be done to ensure students have access to quality learning opportunities and that districts are able to support and enhance student achievement.
“If schools are able [to] create a learning environment that supports and enhances students’ academic achievement, we will be able and will make our schools better for all of our students,” said Emily Miller, a senior fellow at ERI and a former education consultant at the White House.
Miller’s report outlines a few strategies to help schools create an inclusive learning environment.
First, she suggests creating an “alternative learning environment” in which students are not forced to study alongside students of the same gender, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.
She suggests using the following as an example: “One of the things that we need to do in this country, especially in the urban schools that we have, is to make sure that all students can participate in their schools in a different way.
We don’t need to be segregated.
We need to see students as a whole.”
“This is an example of an alternative learning environment, where we can create an alternative space for all students,” Miller added.
Secondly, she recommends providing the students with a new and innovative curriculum, such a “curriculum of excellence,” that teaches students to “enjoy and contribute to diversity, and to the social and political change that we want to see in the world.”
Thirdly, Miller recommends having districts create “special projects” to enhance student learning and promote diversity and inclusion.
“These projects can include developing an alternative curriculum, creating special projects, and creating learning environments that are inclusive,” she said.
Fourthly, she suggested making sure that the students are able and ready to take on additional challenging assignments, such an extra math and science course, or an extra music class.
Fifthly, the report recommends establishing a national accountability system to monitor districts and schools to ensure that district policies are being implemented.
Miller noted that, “One of our challenges as we’re working on this report is that we are in a very, very high-risk, high-poverty country, and that means that we can’t just assume that schools are working in the right way.
The bottom line is that it’s important that districts be accountable and to ensure compliance with all federal laws and regulations, and schools must have a strong sense of their responsibilities.”
Finally, Miller suggested creating a national database of school districts, so that the public can easily compare schools across different states.