There has been a lot of discussion online about the need to improve schooling in the United States. Ultimately, the solution will be found in specific actions. The question is: What specific actions are needed? To get the conversation started, below is a list of ten action items. I hope this will encourage readers to refine the list—better define some statements, replace others, etc. What are the top ten things we need to do to improve K-12 education? Here is a starting point:
1. Return teaching to professional status—invest in teachers and reward good ones.
2. Make teacher education programs more robust and demanding, both in terms of content-area study and educational philosophy and process study.
3. Put teachers in control of the curriculum; de-politicize the curriculum process.
4. Move away from standardized tests that drive curricula toward too-low norms.
5. Empower teachers with well-developed teaching resources; better use of technology to share curricular content across schools through open educational resources (OERs), emulating what we did nationally with educational television in the 1960s-1970s.
6. Build collaborative relationships between schools and higher education; offer university-based high school courses and dual enrollment courses to ensure that students complete high school ready for college.
7. Re-emphasize civics education to give students a better understanding of their role as citizens.
8. Emphasize active learning—inquiry, research, application—rather than just knowledge transfer at all levels.
9. Build collaborations with local employers for internships and with social service organizations to integrate an expectation of community service into the curriculum.
10. Ensure a well-defined general education curriculum (history, literature, writing, speaking, civics, arts) to complement a STEM/vocational emphasis.