To the Editor:
Education is the backbone of our Republic and powers our economic growth. Drastic restructuring is required immediately to overcome the education deficits we're currently facing. International student assessment ranked our students 23rd in science, 17th in reading and 31st in math. Our students are inadequately prepared and the drop-out rate is around 40 percent. Foreign students aren't more intelligent than ours; they just work longer and harder.
Our six-hour school day and 180-day year will not compete in a global economy whose students have higher academic standards. Their teachers are better prepared, spend 30-50 percent more time in class, and have a parent culture that expects more from their children. Teacher and administrator preparation must be more rigorous and employment more selective, requiring degrees in content courses like math, history and science. Eliminate the 12th grade but enroll students in either a community college or voc tech school.
School board members should meet stringent requirements along with term limits. Compensation and benefits should be comparable to similar positions in the private sector and awarded on performance, degree and skill. Eliminate tenure. Explore time, effort and expense of extracurricular activities relative to value produced and received. Require more emphasis on basics and core values of respect, responsibility, honesty, self discipline and citizenship. Implement a parent involvement plan that encourages school district appraisals with external evaluators to determine the school district's effectiveness.
Experts agree we need to transform education to regain U.S. competitiveness. Actions taken to date have failed. Our destiny will hinge on restructuring education.
South Burlington, Vt.