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March 10th, 2010
08:14 AM ET

Radical Steps for Struggling Schools

The Kansas City school board approved a  plan to close 29 out of its 61 public schools. It’s partly a response to a projected $50 million budget shortfall. But it’s also a way to fight the poor quality of education there – quality so poor that the Superintendent says diplomas given to graduates “aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.”

Last month, a school board voted to fire all of the teachers at a poor-performing Rhode Island high school. The move came after the school and the teachers union failed to agree on a way to improve student performance.

Our question: What do you think about these “radical” steps? Are they over-the-top…or just what the doctor ordered?

Post your comments here. Fredricka will read some of them on the air during the 10am ET hour of Newsroom.

Filed under: Fredricka Whitfield • Kyra Phillips
soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Dean

    I think this is great! We should not be forced to tolerate underperforming schools and teachers by their Unions. In the private sector, non-performance results in terminations. In the government it results in non-action or even promotion. Bravo!

    March 10, 2010 at 8:19 am |
  2. Michael Clark

    What in the world is going on, we need to educate our people and the first place to cut is education! I just do not get it, oh well behind in green energy, lets go for education too! Its sad times in America!

    March 10, 2010 at 8:28 am |
  3. Richard A. Lawhern, Ph.D.

    On balance, the National Education Association, like unions in other industries, tends to protect the interests of the weakest and least competent teachers - often at the expense of students, their ultimate customers. It's an example of an old cliche that is none the less true: "if you aren't part of the solution, then you are part of the problem."

    March 10, 2010 at 8:32 am |
  4. Tom - Retired Teacher

    Anytime a program like "No Child Left Behind" can be passed that requires so much with no funding, this can be expected. Diversity in students of different races, culture, and IQ levels dictate not every student can pass those tests. Severely handicapped students are mainstreamed and required to pass the same tests as the others on these tests, but not for a class grade. This approach is just satisfying the tax payers and voters, but is a smoke screen for success. Teaching the test is the only way educators can get the success received. Responsibility is demanded for everyone, but starts at the top.

    March 10, 2010 at 8:43 am |
  5. kent, nj

    I don't know about other states but radical steps are needed in NJ. We have the highest property taxes in the nation $7,500, we spend $22,000 per pupil and it is all because of this hype about education. Education is important but it is not an emergency and there are other ways to deliver education without having homeowners pay 90% of their property taxes for education. Things like layoff of teachers, increase class sizes, replace teacher pensions with 401 k plans, have teachers pay 40% of their health care premium like most people in private industry pay, abolish tenure, online classes at home, and contract out education at lower costs are needed immediately. People are leaving NJ by the busloads because of high property taxes which all go to teachers not quality education. NJ State employees just got a 7% raise and no layoff clauses in their contract. Christie the new governor said there is nothing he can do about this problem. This is insane. NJ needs to have referendum power like 20 other states have so that the voters can take control of this bankrupt state which has an 11 billion dollar deficit and a 50 billion dollar pension deficit.

    March 10, 2010 at 9:35 am |
  6. Lori

    This is absolutely not the correct way to handle the situation. Poor performance doesn't come in the form of inadequate teachers but in the form of unmotivated students. When are we going to hold students accountable for their actions. Teachers are simply a tool to provide information to students, and it is their responsibilty to learn and do the work. We also need to hold parents accountable for guiding and nurturing their children!

    March 10, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  7. MightyBo

    Did Kansas City ever integrate schools or did they create the expense of new schools in the low rent districts? Southerners found out that it was too expensive to pay for "separate BUT equal" schools a long time ago. Maybe the painful reality all U.S. taxpayers will have to swallow is...It is expensive to under educate our citizens. We all lose when we fail even one students education is sacrificed with underpaid, unmotivated teachers, low resources and dilapidated school buildings.

    March 10, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  8. Megan

    If I were to point out the biggest flaw in this whole system is that it does not account for ESL students (English as a second language). Standardize tests are never designed for non English native speakers. Ergo.... If you have a high amount of immigrants in your district you are automatically not going to do well on any of the standardized tests.

    When you look at a town like Central Falls in RI where that is huge factor in their low test scores you have to look at yourself and wonder..... does their ESL system stink.... or do the teachers in the system stink....???

    March 10, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  9. Jackie

    Dean hit he nail on the head. You have to be able to get rid of teachers who do not perform well, instead of
    "passing" them onto the next year of employment.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  10. Joseph

    To close these schools does not make any kind of sense. You close half the schools then each class room becomes extremely overcrowded...then less attention to each child and more opprtunity to slip through the cracks...WHAT ARE THESE PEOPLE THINKING

    March 10, 2010 at 10:11 am |
  11. Roger in Ohio

    I think it is a good iea to start looking at schools in terms of performance. Everyone must become stakeholders in the success of our children - parents, teachers, administrators. No excuses.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:11 am |
  12. Tiffany McMahon

    As a college student studying secondary education, it disgusts me that schools are the ones struggling the most from the bad economy. If we cut the value of schools, there is no way we will make it out of this recession. We have to start with fundamentals, and that is what teachers do, getting rid of them will be cutting the futures of many soon to be accountants, investors, medical researchers, and most of all, more teachers. Removing teachers is not the way to help students and help the future of the United States. It amazes me how clear this is to me, but how vague it is to those making the decisions.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  13. Jerry, Kansas teacher

    As a teacher I can see this issue from both sides. I am one of the rare teachers who see the promise of ideas like Merit Pay for teachers. But the only way this will succeed is with the termination of the failed No Child Left Behind program, so teachers can once again teach, not merely jump through the myriad of hoops ironically put between them and the students.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  14. Kenneth Fischl

    It is very easy to stand from afar and condemn these teachers and schools. Closing down half of the schools and firing half of the teachers can kill the morale of an entire city. It labels not only the teachers and school district as failures but also the students and community. I wonder if any of these superintendents and board members have gone into the classroom and asked these individual teachers what kind of support they would need in order to provide these students with a quality education. My guess is it hasn't happened. A standard and a district wide test does not give you the entire story of a student.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  15. e hortop

    I am all for educational reform, BUT it is a collective effort built on year after year, and teacher after teacher. Firing all the high school teachers doesn't make sense because the problem started L-O-N-G before the students got to them. A school system is only as strong as it's weakest link. Fix the broken links along the way, and don't forget to make shrink class size so the teachers can get to each student.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:17 am |
  16. Mike Breen

    While I hate to see any cuts when it comes to education I think that these steps may actually help schools like your guest was saying.
    We can just throw money at schools and expect kids to get smarter that's never worked. In the cases cited on your show State aid would be focused on few schools and probably increased allowing for more programs to be offered to the students and allowing for a more diverse educational experience. Also, with fewer teaching jobs the market for teachers just became much more competitive. This means that weak teachers would be weeded out during the hiring process and our nation's kids would get a better overall learning experience and make them more desirable in the global job market.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:17 am |
  17. Julissa Contreras

    This is absolutely ridiculous! As a first generation college student in NYC, I have seen the value in education. Simply closing down schools because of low performance is not the proper solution. Many of these "Educational Reformers" fail to acknowledge the fact that the problem may not be the teachers, but the parents themselves. Many parents do not enforce the significance of education, thus, students perform low on standardized tests. Closing down the schools would just create more problems. Where would the students from these closed schools go?

    March 10, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  18. Jordan

    This is not the way to increase student performance. By any sense does closing a place of learning make sense if we wish to increase student performance? We are simply giving younger students and the youth of america as a whole, too many chances to re-do their mistakes. Constantly giving them multiple chances instills that it is okay, eventually they will take it seriously. They need to take things seriously now not later. Also, dare we look at budgeting within these school districts? I'm sure even an untrained eye could find noticeable cuts that could be made and the savings then applied to our academic programs and supplies.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  19. Jawan

    Teachers losing their job should be the last resort. I blame this education inadequacy on the superintendent, the school board, the principal, the teachers, the parents, and even the students. It starts with the head and trickles down. What we need to do is make everyone accountable, especially the leaders. Then, we need to start eliminating jobs. Putting all the blame on teachers is an escape goat, which is truly unfair.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  20. Pam Martin

    It's a shame that "we" continually ignore the reality of education problems. As a society we have become completely fixated on the idea of "everyone is created equal". While all children are entitled to equal opportunities, we have done a huge disservice to ALL children by lumping them together and expecting them to learn. The City of Dallas closed a special ed school years ago – one that was focused on giving children with special needs the best educational opportunities for THEM. Those children were "mainstreamed", which lessened what THEY were getting, as well as what the "mainstream" children were getting in terms of education. The parents didn't want the school to close, but "political correctness" ruled! Add to that the fact that we put kids at every level in the same classroom, we FORCE teachers to teach "down" to the lowest level. Don't blame the teachers for the education problems in this's just another example of our government making bad decisions that don't benefit anyone. There is nothing wrong with grouping kids by ability and needs-and then administering the best we can to each group – so they can reach THEIR highest potential. To blame teacghers for not being able to teach to 30 different personalities, abilities, etc. is absurd! And, no, I am NOT a teacher...just a sensible person!

    March 10, 2010 at 10:20 am |
  21. Mildred Davis

    From my experience from my childhood day's dealing with being a student of a low performance Detroit Public School. I believe if firing Low performance Teacher's, & closing down low performance Schools will help our nation's Children succeed more productively in the long run, Then so be it. For a low performance School means our Children our not receiving a High Quality of Education, which should be naturally given to our nation's Children.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:20 am |
  22. Tracy Chambless

    This Is WAY over due!!! I have 2 boys That just went through the worst school experience with a School of 200 students, the Staff told me they were unable to teach my sons! Now they are in a different State going to school. I was told by the staff Children Now have to many Issues to try and teach them!
    ***Please dont stop the People who see this and care!

    March 10, 2010 at 10:21 am |
  23. Herb Knowlton

    The main reason for poor performing schools is not poor performing teachers. I taught Math and Chemistry for 37 years and worked with many fine dedicated staff. I don't feel the education problems will be solved until family problems in this country are dealt with more aggressively. Schools are charged with "educating" students, but are increasingly expected to "raise" them also. Programs and federal dollars need to be channeled into preschool and elementary programs. You don't fix the problems focusing on closing schools, firing teachers and simply "raising expectations"

    The theory and reality of improving education are very confused in this country.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  24. Theron

    There is alot of blame to go around, but it is the teacher's job to motivate the students. Let's be real about this, just because someone is a teacher doesn't mean they are good at it. Students are failing because the teachers are failing them.

    In Rhode Island the superintendent asked the teachers to stay 25 minutes longer, eat lunch with the kids once a week, and get evaluated by a third party. The teacher's responded by saying only if you pay us $90 for another hour. Mind you, these teachers make somewhere around $75,000 per year.Then the superintendent fired them. The superintendent did the right thing, this shows you where the teacher's priorities are, its not on whether the students do well, but rather on that mean green. They care more about the money than their own students.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:23 am |
  25. David

    I guess it's too complex for smart people, but no effort can save the day when God is forced to leave. That said the best solution for U.S. K-12 education isthe German model. Two tracks, one for jobs training based on local demand, the other for higher education prep. Just too simple.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:24 am |
  26. Richard Llewellyn

    I taught high school for a number of years and it seems as if everyone place ALL the responsibility of a student learning on the teacher. Teachers seem to always get blamed for failures of the students. The learning equation involves parents students and teachers not just the teachers. Those who come on TV or radio and blaming the teachers has never taught and is basing their reasoning on some text book. The psychologist who said you should not spank your kid his kid committed suicide. You cant teach students who are not interested in learning moreover one can do so much and no more.
    The system is also over burden with paperwork which leave very little room for anything else. from my experience those who set the rules and place the blame on teachers has never been a classroom teacher before.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:24 am |
  27. Susan

    It amazes me that all of the problems in education have landed on the teacher, again. Where are the parents and students? There is more to education than just the single person in the classroom. It is very easy to blame the teacher for all of the problems.

    It seems easy enough to close schools by blaming the staff, when much of the problem is money.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:24 am |
  28. schoolfinance101

    Correction to my citation above. I believe it was finally SB 112 of 2007 that passed in MO, allowing for the annexation, not SB 602.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:25 am |
  29. Michael D. Castro

    There is a problem with evaluating education as a business. In a Business if a product is not good people won't buy it so it's up to the owner to improve or make necessary adjustments to remedy the loss of profit. A business involves investment for profit. When the NCLB was enacted by then president George Bush it imposed a business like evaluating model for schools in which the "product:" was student performance. This model put all the weight of the "outcome" (students performance on state tests) of education on teachers.

    Education rest on three parts as a camera on a tripod. Teacher, parents and students should share equal burden on the educational process. But the reality is that NCLB put all the responsibility only the teachers. A teacher can't force a student to learn and perform well in state tests. If there is no cooperating from parents and students alike the process will stall but instead of distributing the blame equally the system decides to punish the teachers. Firing all of these teachers will solve nothing unless some sanctions or ways to stimulate cooperation are imposed on both parents and students.

    Blaming the teachers only and firing them will have the same effect as pruning a bush.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  30. John Babitskas

    Getting rid of half the teachers and increasing class size is not the solution. Cutting the time kids spend in school is not the answer. Blaming it on the pay of teacher, is not going to solve the issue. What is the answer. Appreciation of an Education is the answer. You have to want to go to school. No amount of time and money is going to improve schools if the kid does not want to be there. From John in Atlanta.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  31. Scott

    Why hasn't anyone pointed out the fact that superintendent's make 6 figures! I live in northern Michigan where there are schools anywhere from 15 to 20 miles apart with approx. 300 to 500 students in each. Is there any reason that one superintendent couldn't operate two or three of these districts? Cut two superintendent's and have one run three district's. That would save 200,000 dollar's in wages and 100,000 in benefit's that 300,000 in savings just added anywhere between four and six teachers. Fuel for thought, sport's are an extra curicular activity, education is not. Hate to say it but cutting sport's would save thousands of dollar's.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:30 am |
  32. Sarah- Atlanta, GA

    I think the commentary offered by Jeanne Allen was very black and white. Although I am sure that some incompetent teachers exist, it seems unbalanced to blame all failures on teachers who are most likely over-worked and under paid. I did not hear Ms. Allen mention paying those teachers more for their good performance. Besides, this point-of-view also dismisses the idea that a student's home life has nothing to do with a students failures. Either way, it is not so simple to say that it will improve everything to remove unsatisfactory teachers. When it comes down only to official statistics, it implies that children are merely robots who should all learn the same way and their success should only be measured by test scores, and that is not the case. It can be spun any way under the sun, but in the end it is all about money.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:31 am |
  33. Brian Fegely

    There are several dynamics, all of them negative, conspiring to create this "perfect storm" qualifying many of our young people for low-paying jobs at Wal-Mart and McDonald's:
    Urban school systems are notorious as patronage cesspools.
    State universities have politically-fashionable curricula which do evrything but produce persons qualified to teach our children -but at the highest cost.
    "to get The Best you have to pay The Best"
    -which means school boards, without academic experience, think by offering administrators top salaries that miracles will be produced; see the "Deus ex Machina"/CEO principle.
    Taxpayers want "gimmies" without paying for them; see the "Tea Baggers".
    Allowing nonsense like cell phones, guns, and ipods in classrooms; even laptops may be a fad; check with Bill Gates and his charter schools.
    Finally, the diversion of tax monies to religious academies and homeschoolinf of every conceivable ilk, to the detriment of the public school system and the intelligence of our students everywhere.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  34. Todd

    I don't think closing schools is the answer. Increasing expectations of the K-12 system and holding them accountable is a step in the right direction. As a college professor I teach an introductory course every year. I ask my students, "How many hours outside of class did you spend on studying and homework?" The most common answer is less than two hours a week. Even though these students usually have a very respectable GPA from high school, most of them are not ready for the rigors of college. This is not a new phenomena. I have been hearing this for the last 15 years. At one time at my college, 82% of entering freshmen needed one or more remedial classes in either reading, writing, or mathematics.

    March 10, 2010 at 10:33 am |
  35. Kim

    In Rhode Island teachers are being fired at Central Falls High School based on their students NECAPS scores. These are scores on math and reading tests. So should the whole faculty be fired? The guidance counselors? The social studies teacher? The physical education teacher? etc.

    How does a student's attendance record factor in here? Should teachers be fired if kiddos are absent excessively and therefore test poorly?

    What has the school district done to improve teacher quality? What portion of the budget has been spent on professional growth and development?

    How about the test.... does it accurately reflect or link to what is being taught or the standards or grade level expectations established?

    Lots of issues to be considered here - certainly more than the few ideas I am posting here. This is much more complex than just saying teachers should be fired because students' achievement scores on one test are low. It's complicated!!!!!!!

    March 10, 2010 at 10:38 am |
  36. cora

    Hi, the woman you just interviewed on KC K or MO [you never stated which] is so heartless.. like Lou says the public school = THE GREAT EQUALIZER that is so so true...Charter schools are killing public schools!! Who started the segregation???Well Fred ...they were not Irish..the same people that are robbing the working class[Federal Reserve 'OWNERS'] are 100% creating this 'unfair' playing field..and you know this!!! Put corporal punishment back in schools and that will help the overal function of the schools, students and teachers..the kids can barely do basic math,english,history and science..yet they do formulas and long drawn out tests /exams..that mean little for life is all a scam..who got rid of corporal punishment??was it the dutch??? Anyway the schools situation can be solved if the scumbags in power wanted it ..bit they would rather spend $$$ on slaughtering young men ,women,and children..making weapons ,hiring private soldiers,WARS..bailing out criminals..with honest taxpayers is still shocking that the American people can not figure out that they just gave their $$$ to the banks that the 'OWNERS' of the Federal Reserve control..if that is not WRONG i do not know what is !!!! Fred...JFK,RFK,LINCOLN,KING.MALCOLM X..WHY??? ARE there any Andrew Jacksons out there..YES RON PAUL...Pres.Obama wants to mandate that people sign up with the same ruthless companies that have been preying on the public..there is not any reform without a public option,,it is called COMPETITION..Thanks Cora

    March 10, 2010 at 10:42 am |
  37. Palu

    I think this is great! We should not be forced to tolerate underperforming schools and teachers by their Unions. In the private sector, non-performance results in terminations AND the system is broke i finish high school in my country but when i come to America i help me brother in law with some homework he was a senior high when i help him I realize what he was doing in the last year of high school i did it in my first year of high school in my country third world country so I look at it and people explain that in America they down the score of education so more people can finish high school that why when my kids are going to be in school i will send then a private school or i will send it to my country to study overthere . we have to fix the system because America suppost to be a 1er world country and is not possible than people who finish high school can NOT spell

    March 10, 2010 at 10:44 am |
  38. Dan

    I completely agree with Patricia above.
    If the students are not getting attention/discipline at home, their mentality in class will be gone.
    I have 2 children (a junior and 5th grader), and because of my concern for their education, as well as BEHAVIOR in the classroom, I am proud to say that every parent/teacher conference my wife and I attend, the teacher ALWAYS tells us they wished they have 20 children at home.
    As the old saying goes, they spend 90% of thier time with 10% of the students.
    PARENTS, get your children in line!!

    March 10, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  39. Scott Stodden

    Fredricka first of all your one of the best at CNN, give Fredricka her own show instead of just weekends she's the best CNN! Im still fairly young in my 30's and Fred I never thought I'd see the day when our schools would have to close there doors due to lack of affordability and the high school diplomas are not worth the paper there printed on, What The Hell! Our kids need to be in school and its absurd that schools have no other option in certain states but to close the schools, the goverment should definitly step in and save our schools. Also I support the firing of the teachers in Rhode Island because if there not doing there jobs as teachers such as teaching the kids, making kids learn and getting them to graduate then they should definitly go! I encourage the goverment to get involved because we need our schools and good teachers

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    March 10, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  40. Dan Fasko

    Hi Fredricka,
    First of all, your guest re: the issue of problems with schools was too simplistic in how to fix the public schools in the U.S. I am a prof.who teachs pre-service and experienced teachers, at a university in Ohio. This issue is systemic. As in our state, there has been a reduction in funding for the public schools, as well as with public universities. So, if you can't get the funds, and the system. as in our case, has been determined to be inequitable by the Ohio Supreme Court on several occasions, then you have to rely on the populace and the archaic levy system of taxation. In a state like ours, and many others that have been in the news, and with unemployment high, especially in the "rust belt", it is difficult to tax people so much to support our schools. In addition, we need to stop the "blame game", as I call it. The state legislatures and communities blame the teachers, the parents and students blame the teachers, and the teachers blame the students and the parents. The issue that seems to be lost in the debate is that the overall responsibility for learning is the student! Sorry for this diatribe, but this issue has been discussed since I've taught at universities for the past 25 years, and I've taught in southern Arkansas and eastern Kentucy where the funding wasn't great. But somehow, the teachers and schools make due, even though by the end of an academic year many have paid for supplies out of their own pockets. So, as you can see, the fix is not simple. Thanks for listening, Dan Fasko, Professor

    March 10, 2010 at 10:58 am |
  41. JoAnn from KS

    I have to seems to me that we have been breaking the education system for the last several years. Like most of what Bush did the changes he made tended to benefit the people who are better off. In the education system that meant it left behind the poor in the old and more troubled schools while the people who could afford to take their kids elsewhere did. No child left behind did in fact leave children and teachers behind and now in trouble. I believe the republicans do in fact want to break both systems (Education and Medicare). Like always....the rich will be just fine and the poor will continue to be left behind. Maybe I’m blind…..but I never see republicans doing much that does not benefit the upper class 1st.

    March 10, 2010 at 11:07 am |
  42. Tom Happel

    Kudos to the school system board and administration in Kansas City, Missouri, for their innovative and long needed revamping; with the interests of our children being given top priority for a change. This should be studied and followed to its successful (hopefully) conclusion; as it has potential for being the MODEL that every state in our union should adopt. It has been too long that our school systems have performed for the benefit of our teachers and other union employees while disregarding quality education for our children.

    March 10, 2010 at 11:14 am |
  43. Gigi Harrison

    OKay- you get rid of the bad school – so WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?????? What are they going to do with those children, how are they going to get to the new schools, where are the new schools? I haven't heard of any of the solutions.

    March 10, 2010 at 11:15 am |
  44. Gene Lucas

    I think that the major problem in education today is not the teachers. They teach the curriculum they are given. In "standards-based" systems, that curriculum is very detailed – much too detailed. The major problem with education today is that it's "modern." The decline began when "modern education" started to drive the system. Before that, when I went to school in the 30's and 40's, the curriculum was driven by "training," training to read, physical training to write, and the memorization of the rules of mathematics and language. All those basics have now been discarded, and children are expected to learn and remember from just exposure to material – never happen! So, get off the teacher's backs, and give them a curriculum that works.

    March 10, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  45. charlie

    Want to fund Schools? Simple/ Quit being a service economy and bring back manufactoring to the United States.China just about has it all. Return our manufactoring back to the u.s's people. That should do it. Quickly

    March 10, 2010 at 12:38 pm |
  46. AMANDA

    While it is good to help the world when it is in need. America needs to take care of her children. How can we send relief to haiti but we cant afford education in the U.S . How can you legitamately say you want to help the kids of chicago but cut sports programs and govenor Quinn now wants to eliminate 11000 jobs within the educational department.

    March 10, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
  47. Richard Dean Hovey

    Closing schools and firing teachers? Diane Ravitch, assistant secretrary of education in the George W. Bush administration, once pushed No Child Left Behind but now admits that "measuring and punishing" schools and teachers does not work. Why? Because, she says, effective education advances through collaboration.

    Besides, a recent study shows that about 80% of charter schools compare unfavorably with the public schools in their districts.

    March 10, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
  48. Angie

    Radical Steps?

    Since 2003 Swartzenager froze teachers wages, lowered teachers wages, and Twice has taken millions of dollars out of each school district, promising to pay back, to balance the States Budget. If that isn't radical enought how about the fact that he never paid it back.

    Smaller class sizes, didn't help. Year round school, didn't help. combining teachers and classes, didn't help. Cutting out classes like driving – art – music – dance – gym – sports – etc., didn't help.

    We have had drastic changes since 2003 in our school system which didn't help. Infact we have had drastic changes dating back to 1987 when Wilson was governor and those never helped. The only time the schools were producing better students was when Davis was governor. But he was spending too much on education according to the Republicans.

    It Always Seems To Prove That You Get What You Pay For ! ! !

    March 10, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  49. marie

    I am afriad that when the money is gone, you have to cut somewhere, but I see Americans do not want to accept that!!!! What are they willing to give up? There is no money for under-performing schools so close them, fire underperforming teachers, find some who can perform, we have no time or money to waste here.

    ON top of that what should the states do? If tuition has to go up then it has to, protesting won't change it, if there is no busing for students in less performing areas of California then it has to stop, where is her parents? If they cannot take her to school then she does not need to go there, we have to make people take some personal responsibilty. I am referring to the story of the girl who is bussed for an hour to go to a better school. The government is not the parents here, you do have to sacrifice sometimes for your kids. Carpool, do something to get her there, but don'[t expect the state government to fund your child's education if she won't go to the school they offer. Geez CNN give it a break about the poor students who have to give up something they cannot afford. Where is the personal responsibitly.??

    March 11, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  50. ronnie patrick

    I support the decision to close schools and fire teachers, and adm that are not doing their jobs. I am a teacher and see things with teachers every day , that teachers are doing that is not favorable for students, like sitting on their butts because they can't control the class, and allowing the students to listen to their ipods, dancing, talking, playing, in and out the door going to the bathroom or getting water meeting their friends while doing their visits. The teachers stated I am getting paid let them ruin themselves for my living is made. It is a shame to see these things going on. The adm does nothing but play favorite and support sports. Fire lazy no good teachers and adm, and get fresh new teachers that are smart enough to not only teach, but also control the kids and their classes. You don't need a degree to do that. I do believe that there are a lot of smart people out there ,that would make better teachers that do not have degrees.This is something to think about every day.

    March 11, 2010 at 9:37 am |
  51. ronnie patrick

    I could go on and on about teachers and schools. The school system all across the country needs a complete overhaul and fast. The students that graduate is just what it is a gift. We are incourage to give packages to take home and work on for failing students to improve their grades so that they can complete the grade and the adm do not have to report so many failing students. We have credit retriver programs where students come in at 7:00 am or after school to do their classes in which they failed on the computer and get grades to pass. It is sad but it is the truth. Get this the teachers are the ones that work in these labs and get extra pay to do this. They have 7:00 am until 9:00 am or 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm. The extra pay is $35.00 per hour four days a week. Now keep in mind these are some of the teacher in which are not teaching in their own classes and some of their students are in the credit retriver lab class. What a mess and what a serious problem. I just don't get it myself.

    March 11, 2010 at 9:48 am |
  52. Dan Lafayette,IN

    I say if your paying taxes you should be allowed to go to any public school and not have to go to one that does not perform up to standards. When teachers are paid for performance they will be more willing to help those who are having problems in schools. Sometimes they just give up on certain children who do not live up to getting through school and would like better to hang out with others on the street. We as parents need to show our children how important school is for them to succeed in life and the city or state should not close schools that are declining but make standards for teachers to teach those who would rather be on the streets. It's up to parents and teachers to show how important school is. We should not close schools but make them more efficient for our children! This is why we pay taxes! For the future of our children and the needs of the population.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  53. Arine Ward

    When it comes to the "Schools" America needs to pour the same enthusiasm into our future meaning our kids, as they are with bickering, and nit picking on Capital Hill! Now I've read many comments over the past few days on Education, Healthcare...some say this Administration will bankrupt the U.S.

    This Administration can't do something that was already done before it took the oath of office. Some say their grandchildren will be left with this debt...well the way it seems, we all have been left with something....and at the rate the school districts are turning up triple in the red...its not this administrations fault...

    If the Congress didn't see it feasible for your/our/my children to have a quality education but we can dis-arm, dis-mantle, and dis-engage another country then no one in the Congress was thinking of the U.S. anyway!

    As far as the comments by some educators here, please be ye so careful the way you post comments, with grammatical errors, and fire on the tip of your stick about other leads one to only believe what you were doing all along as well 🙂

    March 11, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  54. Keith

    Radical steps to improve the quality of the education, or is it just to simply save money. I don't believe that closing half of the schools in a district will improve the quality of education. This has happened in other cities before, and of course the problems they are dealing with from making such decisions were never resolved. Will Kansas City find a solution to the inevitable over-crowding of the schools that will remain open? What else are they doing. There isn't enough information being said about what school districts such as Kansas City are doing.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  55. Kizzy

    We all have to make adjustments. Lately a lot of us have been making changes in our household budgets due to job loss, cutbacks, etc... I cut my cell phone plane down by $40 per month or $480 per year. This is what a lot of states, industries and sadly schools have succumb to. We have to be understanding in this difficult time. It's time that we as a people get flexible and support the schools, parents and teachers and do whatever it takes to get financially right in this economy.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:12 am |
  56. Shazetta Thompson-Hill

    This is not, in any way, a reasonable answer the District's problem. Closing HALF of a district's schools and grouping older and younger students together will ineveitably present even more problems. The answer is not to close the schools, but buckle down to bring the schools up to par. If the 300 teachers being laid off were told that, in order to maintain their positions, they would need to come up with ways to ensure that their students were learning and performing well, I guarantee they would step to the plate with more creative and effective strategies with which to assist these students. The fact that school closings was the first option for this district suggests poor leadership. A leader does not quit or leave his followers without hope.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  57. jim bandauskas

    Lets get real. First off lets quit supporting other countries. When this is accomplished we will begin to have money for ourselves. The people in the states closing schools must stand up and "THINK"!

    California is ridiculous. They want to support education for "ILLEGALS"
    sorry, they are getting their just deserves.

    AS for bussing. Lets get rid of disfunctional teachers and the violence in the school. Then children wouldnt have to be bussed. FEDERALIZE the schools so all are equal.

    Get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. remember history. The Russians went broke trying to "Conquer" Afghanistan

    Lastly lets just take care of America..

    March 11, 2010 at 10:19 am |
  58. Robert Marsh

    I am unfortunately a teacher in Florida where the forces of Bob Jones U grad Patricia Levesque (Jeb Bush) and in alignment with the Secretary Duncan (who views education like a b'ball game). They are about to destroy our pay scale cutting our pay in half with some doublespeak about how it "increases teacher pay". It actually destroys collective bargaining and any job security we have. I am demoralized, feel demonized and frankly will get out as soon as I can. The problem in education should be solved on the local level, not some broad brush. My school has a very high graduation rate and we need to just be left alone. Moreover, a high school is a very different beast from an elementary and no one seems to realize it. You don't see many politicians come around here–my students will eat them alive. Teens by the way have a great ability to tell when someone is lying or telling the truth. How about we just get rid of meddling politicians and administrators so we can actually teach?

    March 11, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  59. vera

    This is crazy. I personally think the schools closing down is the wrong choice. Schools are complaining about not having enough money to stay open meanwhile they have enough money to fill all the rooms in school with smart boards. I don't think its fair for any students because without an education we have nothing!!

    March 11, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
  60. Gene Lucas

    Since the enrollment is down about half, the shut-downs seem sort of normal. We have the same problem in Chico, CA, (and all over the state due to budget cuts) even though our student population is only down a little. Longer, 4-day school won't work, the kids will just turn off.

    March 11, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
  61. A. Smith, Oregon

    America is slowly waking up to the FACT that an entire generation of America's brightest future in higher education has now been lost.

    The question is was this by design? Did the Republican lawmakers purposefully torpedo the public education sectors and purposefully gut higher education grants so they could more further rely on overseas immigration of lower waged college grads, and off-shore more wage paying jobs under the excuse of not having qualified applicants here in America?

    I find it ever more difficult to accept losing an entire generation of America's students into higher education was a mere accidental result of the Republican lawmakers and the Republican led administration of Bush-Cheney's economic train wreck that is wreaking havoc on nearly all States economic stability.

    March 11, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  62. mike saunders

    Some teachers are great communicators and others should be doing something else. We all can attest to that from our own experience in the school system. My french teacher was crazy, he would jump up on his desk and quack like a duck when he lost control of the class. In a remedial math class a student was placed at the front of the class, there were only 10 in the class. He would throw paper wads of paper at the blackboard while the teacher was writing on the blackboard. Do you think we got alot out of this class? Too many kids don't learn what they need to in class because of distractions. Kids need help and cutting back on teachers who are not able to teach properly should be replaced, for the sake of the kids!

    March 11, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  63. Lisa

    Yes, we need radical changes in our education system. It is outdated and clearly not working. Obviously, the old way of conducting business is not cutting it anymore. Who's to blame? Everyone-policymakers, teachers, parents, and students. Everyone is disconnected from the needs of the other.

    March 13, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
  64. Tony C

    As a Kansas City, Missouri resident there are several problems facing our current public school situation. An earnings tax several years back positioned the school district to build and staff new schools throughout the district in spite of census data suggesting declining enrollment and population. Couple this with frequent Superintendent changes infighting within the school board and the district was poised for its current predicament. Blaming the economy solely is picking the low hanging fruit from the blame tree.

    March 13, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
  65. Diane

    You need to accurately report on the real reasons for the closings. Is the declining enrollment really due to parents actually choosing private schools because the system is so bad, or was it migration away from the midwest to places like California for economic reasons. If journalists do not provide those critical details, it leaves it open for spin doctors like the woman from the Center for Education Reform (are they a pro-charter think-tank?) to spin it to further their own agenda.

    March 13, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
  66. Don H.

    There are to many school districts, to many school boards, to many separate superintendents and administrators. There should be one K-12 district per state, one superintendent of public education, uniform texts throughout the state, a common commissary for school supplies and materials. Students grades 6-12 should be able to telecommute via the internet for classes, and a designed number of hub schools for students needing individual instruction,i.e., who are not computer savvy.
    More technical high schools, not everyone needs to go to college; Chiefs do not build houses, fix streets, install phones etc.

    March 13, 2010 at 2:23 pm |
  67. Judith Schear

    I am principal of a Pre-K through Grade Five elementary school. Seven of my best teachers just received layoff notices yesterday. The criteria for Reduction in Force was based entirely on seniority – the most recent hired were the ones fired. These women are passionate and proficient elementary school teachers who are making a difference everyday in the lives of economically disadvantaged minority students. Their reward for hard work? A pink slip! Disheartening and troubling! Proficient teachers should be in the classroom teaching, regardless of seniority!

    March 13, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
  68. Fred A. Scott

    I have been a police officer for almost 40 years. I do not have any relatives that are teachers. I hear all these talking heads saying the teachers are the cause students do not learn and charter schools are so much better. I have three questions
    1. If charter and private schools are able to teach so much better. Why do they have entrance examines. They should have to take any child.
    2. What happens to the children that start at a charter or private school that is disruptive. Do they keep them or send them back . Public schools do not have that alternative.
    3. Do charter schools take special needs children like public schools. I see teachers dealing with three types students everyday. The exceptional student, the average student and the disruptive. When the charter and private schools have these type students in their classes everyday then I maybe more willing to criticize.
    The gutless talking heads are afraid to criticize the parents. Where most of the blame goes.

    March 13, 2010 at 3:23 pm |
  69. Stephen, Laguna Niguel, CA

    It seems to me that with the billions of funds being distributed from the Stimulus Plan, that none of these funds would be better spent than keeping all of these troubled schools open. America's future is dependent upon the education of our children – where are Washington's priorities?

    March 13, 2010 at 4:12 pm |
  70. teacherabc123

    This is such a mess i've decided to try and reach just one of you. Marie, you need to take your thinking to the next level... you see, the money is not all gone, there is plenty of it... don't you understand what's been happening the last 2 years, with aig, goldman sachs and the many other thousands of wealthy robber barons (the real number is more than likely in the millions of them) who have profited massively from the bailouts they received – bailouts from you and me? The rich have the money, our money (I'm referring to the corrupt rich, not the decent rich, of whom I fear there are not all that many, but i know they are out there somewhere)... Marie, my dear, the money is not gone, it's simply been funneled elsewhere. That's why schools are closing, and police departments across our U.S.of America are being shut down, and you and I and every other non-wealthy American have been placed dangerously close to joining the ranks of the poor. This isn't about our nation's schools – it's about our extremely wealthy nation's corrupt upper class. Sorry to have to be the one to break it to you, but please give it some thought... people like those at CNN are generally on our side, without them we would, and will, be doomed...

    March 13, 2010 at 8:10 pm |