In politically turbulent times, when we are inundated with conspiracy theories, identity politics, tribalism, political correctness, extremism, fake news, and so much more, America is failing our children—our future. How do we address the needs of children that are getting lost within our confusion and tumult?
Here goes: I want to advocate for education reform on a more nuanced platform to cultivate rich discussions that our diverse education system requires. However, on September 30, as I was being interviewed by Lars Larson , a nationally syndicated conservative radio host with 3 million listeners, I realized that I must be far more blunt to cut through the noise.
The following are the 8 lessons, tenets, principles, initiatives, mandates, fixes that I have gleaned from 12-plus years of education research and both personal and professional experiences having worked and educated three children in five cities around the globe. We lived in Hong Kong (2006-2010), Shanghai (2010-2012), Tokyo (2012-2016), Palo Alto (2016-2018), and New York City (2018-today) during which time I was a parent, education journalist , education consultant for international students seeking placement at U.S. universities, and author .
These cities are the leaders of our global economy, and those in East Asia have the highest academic standings according to the OECD PISA exam , a test administered every three years to 15-year-olds across 70-plus participating countries and economies; it tests for reading, math and science. The U.S. scores fall in the middle of the pack and are falling year after year.
Share this and get the word out, whether you agree or disagree. Have these conversations with your children’s teachers (past and present), friends, family, school board members, book club groups, personal and professional clubs and networks, neighbors, coaches, babysitters, counselors, Parent-Teacher Associations, librarians, principals, politicians, legislators, Facebook groups, social media accounts, administrators and work colleagues.
Remove technology from classrooms unless used as a support tool with regular proof of positive learning outcomes and a clear understanding of its consequences. All schools must develop an agreed-upon parent-school technology and screen time policy on its monitoring and usage. Eliminate social media entirely during school hours.
Spend on teachers. Require schools, districts and states to prioritize attracting and retaining high quality, top talent and mandate rigorous re-credentialing professional development programs. Nothing is more important to student performance than the aptitude of teachers and the relationship between the teacher and student.
Challenge all our kids with far higher learning expectations while providing intentional supports, but without multiple tries on tests/assignments; this runs counter to how the real world works. Our kids need to build confidence, resilience, and motivation from hard work and overcoming difficulties.
- Get corporations out of our classrooms until they are better regulated. (Check out the Miami-Dade corporate lobby registration website.) Prioritize the fundamental learning experiences to improve student performance. #kidsoverprofits
Teach our kids about the linguistically and culturally rich assets within our own country to prepare them for a diverse and irreversibly interconnected world.
Contribute to your community and be part of the bigger picture. Students must participate in and know their impacts on their immediate communities to learn collaboration, patience, compassion, and selflessness. Start by consistently taking care of each other in your home and classroom environments.
Practice a true democracy and create opportunities for all. Strive for equity and equitable funding for schools, especially for those who need it most.
Parents and teachers, roll up your sleeves. Take control of your children’s education day by day. And demand wider systemic changes from administrators and politicians to improve our school districts and school system.
Read World Class for an in-depth understanding (with a side of humor) on how we can raise more resilient, compassionate and academically high-achieving students who will one day be able to participate successfully in our increasingly competitive global economy.
OECD (2016), PISA 2015 Results (Volume I): Excellence and Equity in Education, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264266490-en.