Schools and the property are not being used to their full potential. They are used only 5 days a week for 6 hours.
Most of this program I am outlining is not a "forever" thing. We need immediate, intense and individualized interventions to break this vicious, destructive cycle. If we modify spending and stop the waste, fraud and abuse, we'll have more than enough money to pay for truly effective programs that build people who can compete in the economy. It starts with the kids and it starts in schools.
Teachers are overwhelmed. They are overly controlled. No matter how wonderful of a school you send your kids to, their experiences are tied to the teacher who is in front of them. They can't do it all and special education is failing. Teachers need guidance, support, resources and the best tools money can buy if we expect them to educate. Really educate..in all ways. Teacher burnout is astronomical. We lose 40-50% of teachers within their first 5 years in the classroom.
Every classroom should have no more than 20 kids. Believe it or not, at 21 kids and more, education suffers SUBSTANTIALLY. Every teacher needs an aide to help the ones who can't keep up. Each school needs to have its own school psychologist, social worker, mental health professional, speech and language, occupational and physical therapist. An expensive team, but do you want to fix this mess or not? How much is Baltimore costing both now and in the future? How many more B'mores do we need to "get it"? I know I'm preaching to the choir. Sorry.
1. Open the schools up after class hours to help with homework, teach adults literacy and provide for the supervision of the elementary kids by "employing" middle + high schoolers to do homework with them and play with them. Developing relationships is the only way out. It's the only investment worth anything. If one person cares, it propels a child forward. This plan will teach work-related skills and responsibility and will provide nurturance for the little ones and teach them academic skills AND behaviors to succeed.
2. Open the schools up on the weekends for academic and social opportunities. Recruit high school students who need community service hours + college students who are training to be teachers to earn hours helping those who show up for help.
3. Teach literacy and job skills to adults. Recruit service organizations and vocational programs to lend a hand. Ask the community for support. Ask retirees who are plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics to lend a hand to make their own communities stronger.
4. Make the neighborhood schools a place where people can learn languages, learn different ways to cook, repair their cars and improve their health through exercise classes, and sports. Home maintenance tips and skills can be offered by staff of the Home Depot or Lowes. Child development and parenting resources are a must.
5. Have professionals to support parents with children with disabilities. Speech and language, occupational therapists, educational therapists, mental health/behavioral folks. These are the same professionals who will be supporting the teachers so they have first-hand knowledge of the kids in the community.
The only feature of every community in America is the neighborhood school. Let's use these buildings to actually build investments in our neighborhoods. People typically don't destroy the things they love, the things they are invested in unless they are hopeless and helpless.
This country has plenty, plenty of money. We can pay for this. We have tons of money to pay for this. Don't you dare tell me we can't do this. It's a matter of will and commitment. We've got nothing to lose. In 2013, government waste was estimated at $40,000,000,000. Yes, that's $40 billion. How many schools could be created by $40 billion. Social Security alone pays hundreds of millions of dollars to dead retires and millions to pay for the heating and air conditioning bill of the deceased. We can do better. We have to do better. Otherwise, it will be more "burn, baby, burn".
We're not investing in the kids. As usual, we're talking a good game, but the words are empty. Those of us who work in schools have known this for freakin' ever. My Dad fought in WWII. He would frequently say to us kids, "Don't just stand there, do something". Well, AMERICA, DON'T JUST STAND THERE, DO SOMETHING!!