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August 27th, 2010
06:23 AM ET

So, How do we Fix our Schools?

We’ll be tackling that question and possible solutions all next week.
And we want you to be a part of the conversation.
Do you have questions or concerns about your student as they get ready to start the new school year?
CNN Education Contributor Steve Perry will join us starting Monday to answer some of your toughest questions.

Filed under: Kyra Phillips
soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    With all the unemployed parents and school starting back what efforts is the government making to help with back to school supply's our government seems to jump at the chance to bail out wall street auto makers and banks so why cant they jump a little for education the people of America dont have the money to send there kids back to school well equipped .

    August 27, 2010 at 6:57 am |
  2. Dan

    How do we fix our schools? It starts at home. Parents (not all) don't discipline their children; therefore, teachers have to deal WAY to much of trying to get children in line and less amounts teaching.
    Parents, discipline your children, NOT the teacher.

    August 27, 2010 at 7:07 am |
  3. Retired Public School Teacher

    Why do you have Steve Perry as an expert consultant? He is a biased privatizer. If you keep him as a consultant, at least add another consultant who doesn't come with a bias against public schools and public school teachers. Is Diane Ravitch interested? Otherwise, CNN itself is displaying bias.

    August 27, 2010 at 9:39 am |
  4. WillC

    Principal Perry,

    We have a 3 year old that will soon be attending preschool. My wife and I are both first generation college grads and we are debating the differences between home-schooling, private school, and public school systems to adequately prepare our daughter for the future. My question is: With all three systems (home, public, private) there are definite pro's and con's; what would you advise us to use as the strongest factor for making this decision on our daughters education?

    August 27, 2010 at 9:43 am |
  5. Alton

    I watched the report today, 08/27/2010, about the U.S. schools. I think that the experts solutions are too simplisticl. It's easy to sit behind a microphone and tell school teachers and administrators what they are doing wrong. Too many people with "ideas" on how to fix the system move on to speaking tours instead of staying in the schools to fix the problems.

    August 27, 2010 at 9:44 am |
  6. Kim Williams

    How do we get the parent to understand that the child need to have a meal and a study , bed time to make sure the child can focus in school.

    August 27, 2010 at 9:44 am |
  7. Todd

    Considering the large percentage of Black young men that drop out of school, I think it would have been more insightful had Steve Perry gone into a the home of a poor single parent Black family where the children were doing poorly than to an upper class White family where the children are doing well in school, and have minor issues in comparison.

    August 27, 2010 at 9:49 am |
  8. Rich

    Steve Perry has NO clue when he says that class size isn't important.
    He also has said NOTHING about ridiculous testing procedures that basically control how teachers teach.....this is BS and if the truth be known.....the BUSH family profits from each and every test that students take because the Bush family is involved with the sale of those tests to our schools......we have been defrauded in many many ways by the BUSH family. How many years has Perry been working??? Just because he is a "principal" doesn't mean that he is a good principal....also just because his school district seems to be doing well doesn't mean that its due to him......its more likely that the parents in his district actually care and in some dstricts like that, it wouldn;t matter how big the classes are, if the parental involvement is apparent. There is no simple solution to our schools....each district has its own problems.....mostly lack of adequate funding. And that is because we now have a polarized society (shrinking or no middle class) and the rich are NOT paying their fair share of their wealth in taxes. The poor are paying a higher percentage of their limited wealth in taxes than the rich are doing....this is blatenly unfair and is part of the problem that President Obama is trying diligenty to fix!

    August 27, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  9. Don R

    I agree with Dan. I am a teacher, and the BIGGEST issue I encounter is the students lack of motivation in class -no matter how engaging the teacher makes it. "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink!" I'm a funny and engaging teacher (HS Science), and I still have students NOT interested in their education. It's so frustrating! Fixing our schools need to start at home. Without the support at home, students WILL take the path of least resistance, and not perform.

    Sure, there are a few teachers that shouldn't be teaching. But the sole problem is NOT the teachers. The problem is at home.

    We are demanding that our teachers perform miracles with less. Less funding, less supplies, less time to do it in, less support from home, and it requires us to work beyond the normal working day. And, what's more, we do all of that with less money (salary).

    Teachers are charged with educating the future, but we are not compensated for this task. Many talented Math and Science teachers are seeking careers outside of education because we are unfair compensated. In many cases, building secretaries are paid more than teachers. Don't get me wrong, I love our secretaries and they have a tough job -but so do teachers.

    Think about it...

    August 27, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  10. Heather Carter

    Wow! Amazing! Every time I hear Principal Perry speak, I am absolutely amazed! I feel like cheering right hear in my living room. Why is it that he is not the person in Washington running our educational system on a federal level? I really cannot express how impressed I am with his thoughts on education. Oh, and I love the way he stopped that opinionated child in his tracks. He needs to come to my house. I completely agree with him about junior high and high school being the critical time to be involved with our children. When they least want you around, and you least want to be around them is by far the most important time to be around as a parent. And to second what he said about teachers; teachers, please don't teach unless it is your passion to inspire children and young people. Kyra, nice job with the interview, and Principal Perry thanks for all your hard work. Keep it up.

    August 27, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  11. Phil Strong

    Steve – excellent report on what we teachers have known since the 60's that teacher competency (NOT class size necessarily) makes the difference!

    You don't take this far enough however. If a teacher suffers from the "Peter Principle" lacking skills to meet the student needs, then it all starts at the teacher training levels – look at the mediocre and incompetent teacher training professors at the university level to discover why teaching credentials do not necessarily reflect competency!

    A California State Supt of Schools admitted to me a few years back when I confronted her with this fact and she said, "we tried to institute a test/teach program at the university level but the professors WILL NOT allow anyone to hold them accountable for anything!" (Another Ivory Tower problem.)

    Steve, leadership ALL starts at the top and trickles down.

    Phil Strong

    August 27, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  12. Paula

    It was refreshing to hear Steve Perry describe how the prep school brat does not have opinion because he is a child. It's about time someone put this generation of entitled, self-rightous brats in their place. I am appalled at how the parents place these children on par with authority and fail to enforce a decent bedtime. Structure and saying "no" seem to be a thing of the past with generation x parents. Stop behaving like peers and start acting like parents.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:14 am |
  13. Sara

    I watched this morning's bit, Friday, with "The Principal". He seems to think that teachers are failing. I just want you to know that it is not just the teachers. Administration is failing the teachers. School has become a big business. Caring about children only seems to happen by a select few of teachers. If the principals, central office people, superintendents and the state department are not caring about the children, then that trickles down to the teachers. I am a recently retired teacher. In our school system there is not enough discipline. The children will not listen, follow directions, or care because their parents aren't parenting. Even the children that I knew who had excellent parents would follow the majority of children in whatever they were doing. Discipline starts at home and a teacher cannot teach if he/she has to discipline the entire day.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  14. LH

    If you want to fix the school system, follow the money? Get rid of all the top administrators and put them back in the classroom. Someone needs to look at the reporting hiearchy and do away with all of the levels upon levels of management and put these people back in the classroom. There are so many layers thinking of tasks for teachers that cannot possibly be done. I would like to put them all back in the classroom and let's see if they survive. Let's start with principal Perry. He is idealistic at best and inexperienced at worst. Next, the money the school system spends on text books, new curriculum materials ( NONE OF WHICH IS ANY BETTER THAN THE ONE BEFORE) is a waste of taxpayers' money. My wonderful educated idea to improve the school system is to make parents accountable for the behavior of their children. The non working parents who are receiving state aid and lack an education should be in the classroom with their childen learning right along with them. Parenting classes should be first and foremost. I am a teacher. I am not a mental health worker, I am not a nurse, I am not a certified counselor, I am not a minister. I am a nurturing teacher with excellent test results. Some parents love me because I push and encourage the students to excel. Other parents are abusive because my expectations are too high. Am I discouraged? You bet ! I am discouraged because I watch the fat cats work in their own best interests to get kickbacks for purchasing new curriculum materials. Why do you need 10 administrators to tell 1 teacher how to improve classroom instruction? I watch our children suffer because the teacher has to sit silently and never advocate on behalf of the students for fear of losing their job. I watch our children suffer when their abusive parents come into the classroom to give the teacher a piece of their mind. I watch the administrator who never supports the teacher because the parents dictate whether the principal keeps his/her job. JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE A PRINCIPAL, IT DOESN'T MEAN IT IS THE BEST JOB FOR YOU. GET PRINCIPAL PERRY OFF THE TV AND PUT HIM IN THE CLASSROOM! IT IS CLEAR, HE IS SHOPPING FOR A REALITY SHOW! If the good principal Perry is so great, and he thinks having more children in the classroom is in any way a plus to improve education,
    I would like to know if he has children and what school they attend and how many students are in their class? Many students have no parents at home to help them, so they need one on one attention during class. If you have a class full of low performing students, ask the miracle worker how you divide your time among 25 low performing students and get the results that he speaks of. I think I had better stop writing now because the more I write, the more I could write.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:20 am |
  15. Dan

    Rich, you sound pretty bitter about the last administration; however, this administration has been in office almost 2 years now, so they have had ample time to fix, or at least begin the process of correcting the educational problems. Have they?
    And, oh, by the way, come Jan 1, we ALL will be paying more in taxes.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:26 am |
  16. Bob Wallace

    Everyone wants to fix the RESULTS- but no one will address the CAUSE. I taught high school math for 13 years. I witnessed legislature, policies, and many NEW techniques as efforts to fix the problem. If all the money spent to fix the results would have been spent on a social program to train the parents, then the problem would be shrinking. Parents are the problem. No politician or school administrator wants to go toe to toe with parents, so they appease the problem by loading more and more responsibility, accountability, and paper work onto the teachers because they are the path of least resistance. If student grades AND class room attitude were evaluated, and the PARENTS of those that do not meet the standard were required to attend a night class at the school for training as to how to help, monitor, and what to require of their child, then we would have schools producing impressive results all over our country.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  17. John

    I am 77 yrs old. I taught 6th grade. I had an average of 33 students in my class.
    Class size has not one thing to do with educational success.

    I went to Catholic schools and I had 50, yes 50, students in my class from grade one to high school. Nuns were great people and not mean as comics like to tell.

    The student has to be motivated to work hard while in school. Pay attention to what the teacher is telling them and not sleeping or looking out the window or daydreaming.

    Rich, poor, white, black or Latino, it is up to the parents and the kid to push themselves. Or they will not graduate.

    Money is not the answer. The U.S. spends more money to educate kids than most nations and we get poorer results.

    Parents, make your kids have chores at home, Do not pay them for doing it. Send them to bed no later than 10 p.m.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  18. mike posey

    (Regards the egg recall....has anyone noticed that it's WHITE eggs that seem to be affected? How about going to the brown eggs? They're a little bit more expensive, but seem to be OK. Rhode Island Red chickens are not kept the same way as the white leghorn chickens. They are bigger, lay fewer eggs, but don't seem to be the problem this time? They're caged differently, the Reds being bigger then the White Leghorn chicken, whick produce most of the eggs sold.) I hardboiled my last dozen, which will kill the bacteria.....Both my wife and I like eggs, anyway you cook them....Hardboiling is a good way to avoid the problem, as might be buying the brown eggs.....We've survived the spinach, and all the other recalls, in the last few years....Cook your food thoroughly, don't eat anything raw, (like cookie dough), over the years, I'm in my 60's, as is my wife, we've NEVER been sick from eating any food...We are careful in preparation, don't cross contaminate, thoroughly wash utensils, and cook meats all the way through, particularly chicken, and turkey...We don't eat "leftover" stuffing, which is a major source of salmonella at Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We carefully bleach our cooking preparation surfaces with bleach, particularly after working with chicken and turkey....We've found a little thought in food preparation, and cleanliness and caution work well....More people might take it into account.....Just because you buy something in a grocery store does NOT mean it's good...Careful and thoughtful preparation, and storage is also quite important....covered containers, freezing, all these things work to cut down your chances of getting sick....Mike and Val Posey

    August 27, 2010 at 10:35 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Dear Principal Perry,
    My husband and I have a combined family with 3 school agers – 17, 14 & 3. We have differences of opinion in how to discipline our children, him being lax and I more of the disciplinarian, and that, among other reasons, is causing a rift between us and leading the children down a tumultuous path of destruction. Both the 17 yr old and 14 yr old, lack discipline and respect for authority. The 17 yr old has since dropped out of school. The 14 yr old, although precocious, is opinionated and lacks motivation. I am sure their behavior is just a reflection of the ongoing problems my husband & I experience. Please advise of any tips you may have in getting the family back on track.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:37 am |
  20. James Kitts

    I am a long-time CNN watcher. I am also a 25-year veteran teacher in a very successful school (95% graduation rate and 70% on to college after matriculation.) My wife, however, teaches in the Flint Public Schools. Her results are far different. The children come to school happy because they are no longer at home where poverty and neighborhood violence is norm. They are sad when they leave because they know what they are returning to – poverty, violence, and hopelessness. What I am upset about is your so-called 'expert,' Steve Perry, whose common refrain is 'pay evil union teachers less (or simply fire them) because they are the reason SOME schools are doing poorly'. I now just turn off CNN when he comes on (as I will do all this week). There are millions of extremely dedicated public school employees in this country. We don't do it for the money. Mr. Perry is NOT the principal you want imparting advice. He seems to have fired more teachers than he has helped. Schools thrive in a supportive administrative atmosphere. My first principal immediately paired me with a mentor and put me in a teacher training program after school where I learned what I should have in been taught in college. Those lessons have stuck with me for 25 years. Mr. Perry's answer is, 'fire them.' I joined the union because it afforded me simple, common sense protections from the Steve Perry's of the world. Give me a break, CNN, putting Steve Perry at the kitchen table with a white, middle-class family who lets their kids stay up all hours of the night ? What advice can he give them? How about, "Go to bed!" No, he'll turn it around and say it's the teacher's fault. Have Steve, the charter school huckster, visit the inner city schools and their families. Please don't fall into the trap believing America's schools are failing. American inner-city schools are struggling under the weight of poverty and hopelessness. All schools are struggling financially. The cupboards are not only bare, we're selling them to buy paper for the copy machine. Water and juice machines are buying textbooks. Things are very bad out here in the wonderful world of education. My wife and I are taking a 6% pay cut this year to keep the pensions alive. We will also pay more for our insurance again this year. We have not had a raise in 10 years. How about you? Show a little respect. Show a successful school once in a while. Just to let you know, I will boycott CNN this week in it's getting back to school week with good old Steve Perry. You do a great disservice to kids in public schools with him on camera.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:44 am |
  21. Denise in Florida

    I voted "for" the Classroom Size Amendment. I regret that vote for 2 reasons:

    High School: My daughter was an Advanced Placement (AP) math student. When the Freshman AP math class became full, they placed my daughter in the same level of math, but with regular level Seniors. This resulted in Senior boys preying upon my Freshman daughter. It became such a problem that my daughter had to be taken out of the school altogether.

    Middle School: My son attends a school that was just built and deemed a "Hurricane Shelter". Due to the Classroom Size Amendment, "Portables" (outside trailers) were brought in and placed on school grounds outside the safety structures of the security doors and fences. These old Portables do not meet hurricane or wind-load safety standards, nor do they have a rear means of exit in case of fire.

    Please share with your listeners these 2 reasons why limiting the classroom size is NOT necessarily good.

    Denise in Florida

    August 27, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  22. Robert in Florida

    Typing needs to be mandatory all 3 years of Middle School. By the time a student enters High School and College, this skill is essential. Typing with your two thumbs will not qualify you for any job (cell phones). In these technological times, most professions require some amount of typing and computer know how.

    August 27, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  23. Denise in Florida

    I voted "for" the Classroom Size Amendment. I regret that vote for 2 reasons:

    High School: My daughter was an Advanced Placement (AP) math student. When the Freshman AP math class became full, they placed my daughter in the same level of math, but with regular level Seniors. This resulted in Senior boys preying upon my Freshman daughter. It became such a problem that my daughter had to be taken out of the school altogether.

    Middle School: My son attends a school that was just built and deemed a "Hurricane Shelter". Due to the Classroom Size Amendment, "Portables" (outside trailers) were brought in and placed on school grounds outside the safety structures of the security doors and fences. These old Portables do not meet hurricane or wind-load safety standards, nor do they have a rear means of exit in case of fire.

    Please share with your listeners these 2 reasons why limiting the classroom size is NOT necessarily good.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:04 am |
  24. Robert in Florida

    Typing needs to be taught in all 3 years of Middle School. By the time a student reaches High School and College, typing is an essential skill. Furthermore, most jobs in this technological age require some level of typing and computer know how.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:12 am |
  25. Cole Heideman

    As an instructor for the California Department of Corrections for many years I interviewed somewhere close to 2000 prospective students prior to their being assigned to my class. They came from all walks of life and many with college educations. But the greatest majority (70-80%) were at a 6th grade academic level and a 9th grade efficacious level. So who do we blame? Of course we blame the parent, we blame the school, the teachers are more often than not blamed, as well as the lack of funding. And yes, we can even blame Steve Perry, G.W. Bush and the students themselves. Having said that, can we proceed past the "Blame Game" that has been steering us off the path to correction? When we are capable of differentiating between the academically, technically, physically and cognitive predisposed individuals and not lumping them all into one big group for learning and progress evaluation purposes we may be on the path to an improved society.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:15 am |
  26. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    Maybe it's not the schools that needs to be fixed maybe it's the students .

    August 27, 2010 at 7:42 pm |
  27. Chris

    Hi Steve,
    Thank you for addressing our education system but I hope you touch on much more issues that I am faced with everyday including my wife. My wife is a high school teacher and I do substitute teaching when I can along with after school volunteer programs to help problem students.

    One of our major area of concern is threats that we receive from students and no respect to authority. These threats are verbal abuse but in a few cases physical abuse occur. Our teachers are afraid.

    When parents are called in for a conference they either say they will do nothing about it just expel him/her or they will say I will talk to my child with no results. We find quite a few parents just don't care or don't have time especially with single parents or low income families.

    When America's education system fails, teachers are fired but what can anyone do about parents?

    In our opinion, the parents are the biggest variable in the education equation that needs attention

    Thank you,
    Chris and Judy

    August 27, 2010 at 9:20 pm |
  28. Bridget

    When a teacher believes you can reach a school goal, the student responds accordingly. I've seen enough fake encouragement. Every time, It makes me cringe. The children know and every time they learn a negative about themselves. Years of that results in what?

    August 28, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  29. Dee in new Paris OHIO

    Three easy steps:

    1. look at the system in place in whatever country is the leader in education success in the entire world

    2. Scrap our system (it is a total failure)

    3. Copy the system of the country in item #1.

    August 28, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
  30. Disappointed

    It all starts from the beginning, children need a solid foundation. Kindergarten should be a prerequisite for 1st Grade OR there should be testing to get into 1st Grade. We have schools that actually say that they base enrollment on the child’s “age not their ability” that is absolutely ludicrous.
    They are letting children who can’t even read or write start 1st Grade, and the child suffers because they turned 6 before the deadline and now they can go to 1st Grade. This is a growing trend in America, this child will struggle throughout the school system but somehow is slipping through the system and going on to the next grade, until the child is so far behind that we are lowering Standards all over the States to let them pass the grade. Eventually this child finds it to difficult to continue and drops out of school. This is a growing trend in America and until people realize that it starts with a solid foundation the school system is going to continue to decline.
    On the other hand, you have a child who completes a kindergarten program at a private school, and cannot get into 1st Grade because we judge by “age and not ability” this child who could raise standards all over America is declined access to the public school system because they turned 6 AFTER the deadline. Parents with money can afford to give this child a private education and continue their childs education in 1st Grade via the private school to build a solid foundation for him/her, but that’s not fair for the rest of us. Most private schools have placement testing before initial enrollment, and we need to do that in our public schools in order to raise our standards. To fund the tests, enrollment needs to have a fee of $5 (an example), I would pay that in a heartbeat as opposed to paying $5000-$6000 for a private school.

    August 28, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  31. Amazed

    Early learning in America why do we admit a child into a certain Grade based on the childs age and not ability?

    In Britain for example where they have an excellent education system, children have the option to start Kindergarten at age 4, school starts at age 5. Many Asian countries are the same, these foreign countries give their children a solid foundation and then send them to the States where we have the resources, and for example the Asian students soar through our high school system, get scholarships and continue on to Ivy league schools in America. It all starts from early childhood.

    I don't understand why America has the whole "learn by play" fundamentals for our younger children, this is when children should be moulded, and desciplined to be educational powerhouses. They can play at lunch time, after school in the weekends but that's not what the kindergarten classroom. We need to look at why foreign students come to our schools and are "straight A" students.

    August 28, 2010 at 9:11 pm |
  32. John M

    Avoid providing lip service and actually hire some highly qualified African American male teachers.

    I am a new highly qualified /certified African American male teacher who just received a Master's degree in EDUCATION and I have been unable to secure employment for this coming school year. One million African American males can prepare themselves to teach, but if the state can't or won't hire them, becoming a teacher instead of a doctor or lawyer is futile for both parties.

    August 29, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
  33. Kathy

    My daughter missed 63 days of school last year and our school district passed her to 10th grade against my wishes. How can a child w/Special Needs miss that many days and still be passed on to the next grade? No one in this district will answer that question. Our district uses DCF to circumvent the SPED laws and either pushes kids through or out having them put in foster care on trumped up accusations and then they no longer have to comply with the child's education plan (IEP) or any mediation agreement because the child no longer lives in the district. Amazing how easy it is to circumvent the law and deny a child the opportunity to succeed.

    August 29, 2010 at 9:48 pm |
  34. Ally

    Our Public schools would benefit from more interactive learning instead of just book knowledge and tests.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:24 am |
  35. Karl Wulf

    Inner city Voucher pilot program. Break NEA monopoly which is dooming our children to failure.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:24 am |
  36. Former teacher

    Get rid of the tenure system, which blindly protects ineffective, high wage earning teachers who teach the same thing after year, at the expense of allowing new, innovative teachers who earn much less to enter the systems. Also make the teachers work all year round; the average teacher works just 9 months a year; compare that with the typical office worker who works 50 weeks a year!!!! I am frankly tired of hearing about the poor wages teachers make as they take Summers off and then retire with $75K and health benefits for life. No sympathies here!!!

    August 30, 2010 at 8:26 am |
  37. Brendan

    The best way of improving our schools is to make the curriculum more rigorous. This prevents significant increases in cost, but would certainly improve education in the country.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:27 am |
  38. Bonnie Rice

    High schools typically start at 7:25 am and middle schools start at 9 am. As a pediatric nurse practitioner, I have to note that this is contrary to the physiological needs of teens. Younger children have an easier time with early rising, and teens notoriously find this difficult. I was told by the prinicipal that the schedule is based on the availability of bus drivers. How many teens 'are dropping out because they don't have strong family that will support them in getting to school on time? How much family strife has this caused? Because of bus driver schedules- ridiculous! I would suggest having a later high school start times could influence the quality of learning that can occur as teens would not be fighting their physiologic rhythms.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:28 am |
  39. Mickey

    Here's a perspective from a high school senior!

    The most important thing we need to do is STOP comparing arbitrary test scores to those of others around the world... our children's education isn't a competition or a game, and we need to focus more on quality and new ideas, regardless of how the perform on these foolish exams. In fact, the whole "Math, Science, English, History" is almost Victorian in how outdated it is! We need to make new focuses in our education; Innovation, Leadership, Stewardship, Collaboration. Until we rip ourselves away form this competitive, antiquated system our country will never progress!

    I also agree with Jen; the amount that administrators (many of whom do absolutely NOTHING) get paid over hardworking teachers is ridiculous. Teachers are overworked, tired, and frustrated... and yet the communities often blame them for these lazy, awful kids.

    If there's anyone to blame, I would blame the last generation of parents... kids today are, in general, jerks. They think they can act however they want, and don't value education at all. I look at the behavior of my peers and want to cry at how rude they are. And parents just don't care! They refuse to take away their fancy phones, cars, laptops, even when a child is failing summer school (my mom is a summer school teacher so I've had a first-hand view of how disturbing this whole process is.)

    Our education needs to switch gears to modern times, money needs to be put in the right directions, and kids need some real discipline!

    So, in summary, we need to refocus, refund, and reprimand! 🙂

    August 30, 2010 at 8:29 am |
  40. Donnie Edwards

    In Mingo County WV children have been and will be for years to come be put in danger and federal money has been used to make this happen no where else in America have children been put on top of a mountain ten miles from the main highway with nothing else around have there school shut down before school was out have asbestose drilled while children where in the building and much much more this from a state take over for what many say is to help get water,sewage and electrity to land owned by the rich and a road to a golf course.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  41. Bill Schepp

    To improve the classroom learning technique you must get rid of the unions for teachers. Then eliminate all sports in grade school and high school like the other foreign countries and make sports a private option fully paid by the parents. Eliminate school lunch programs and make the parents provide the necessary care needed for the children.
    Then we can spend all the tax money on school buildings and tools for learning along with exceptional competing salaries for good teachers.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  42. Kevin

    This issue is a huge problem for the future of our nation, and I think a major problem that contributes to high school dropouts that is overlooked, is the fact that college is unaffordable to most high school students who drop out. Lets face reality, a high school degree is not really going to help anyone out without the college degree to follow, so if someone sees no possible future to complete college then there is no motivation to complete high school. I am a college student, and I can speak for myself and a number of my friends and say that if I/we did not have financial help we would not be in college either. A lot of college students these days will tell you how ripped off they feel with colleges making you take ridiculous classes to keep you there for 4 years instead of 2 for some majors. There are plenty of kids out there who are smarter and harder working than me and my friends that had a chance from the moment they were born to attend college and the only reason we get to is because our parents could afford it for us. College tuition rates have increased something like 7 times the inflation rate the past 10 or so years. (not sure what the statistic actually is, but you get the point) It has gotten to the point that if you sit back and actually look at the money, sadly, it makes more sense not to go to college financially. Anyone can tell you, you do not have to be smarter than the average person to get a college degree, you just have to have the money and be willing to work hard.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:39 am |
  43. Lindsey

    I went to a school of four thousand five hundred children. Each classroom had thirty people or more in it. We need to hire more teachers. With thirty people in a classroom, no one gets heard.

    We need to use our time better. In high school, I would finish my busy work, and then be left to just sit and stare at a wall. I couldn't get up and leave, and there was nothing else to do, so I had A) no incentive to do my work/reward to finish it and B) my mind was left idle for more than half of the school day.

    We also need to institute an incentive program. For instance – most high schools say that if you onlymiss one class day per year, and have an 'A' in your class, you do not have to take the final exam. But how realistic is that? Missing one day a year per child is simply a phenomonal expectation. We need to make it easier for kids to be rewarded for their hard work.

    The two questions that kids in my HIGH school asked, that stunned me the most were "can you tell me where viet-cong is?" (Confusing it with the country, and NOT knowing where it is) and "Is Alaska part of the United States?". I was absolutely flabbergasted. Early education and GOOD early education is vital to continued sucess.

    Lastly, children MUST be stimulated. With the increase in technology, and other such factors, the attention span of kids is extremely short. Classrooms consist of blank walls, too much free time, and are too confined. We need to be outside, going to museums, doing hands on experiments, engaging children, and making learning fun. A dull lecture isn't going to cut it anymore.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:41 am |
  44. Rick

    take sports out off the school and concentrate on just what your there for , an education ! NO sports, NO band, NO phyed , just an education . If you want sports make it a town or city sponsered team , sponsered by the murchants / businesses of the town / city and not at all related to the school, and not on school grounds.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:45 am |
  45. Bill Elsenrath

    I feel that busing has hurt our public schools more then just about anything else. I live in Louisiana and lived in Livingston Parish Louisiana. In Livingston Parish we had no busing because the schools were already racially mixed close to what the laws dictated. The Parish (County) had a small minority group in each school district and the children often lived close enough to the school to just walk there. Very few students went to private school. One Parish away, East Baton Rouge Parish the children were bused clear across the city. Some had bus rides of as long as 1 1/2 hours to school. Needless to say a lot of parents that could afford it sent their children to private schools which there were plenty of in Baton Rouge. I watched the schools and education go down the drain. I hate to say it but the money spent in busing should have been used to improve the schools and pay the teachers more in the rougher areas of town. I believe that 95% of students want to go to good schools and get a good education. Busing wasn't the answer. All it did was to cause the more wealthy families to send their children to private school and the students that bussing was suppose to help just hurt the system.

    I believe I'm saying what is not popular and may be taken as a raciest view. I am just conveying what I feel is part of the problem. I will say that the public schools are starting to improve but busing did
    hurt the system.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:45 am |
  46. Knight

    Fix schools comment:
    1. There are basic elements all students need, however; if we want a nation diversified in knowledge and skills, we need to get rid of standardized testing. Teachers need to be free to take advantage of special learning moments, create units and projects, etc. These are the things that help students develop a love for the school experience.
    2. Respect for teachers need to be restored. They are trained professionals in the area of teaching. I have observed principals dictate when they should stand, sit, words to use when greeting students, etc. If a teacher is not teaching well, then it is time to make a change.
    3. Children need a summer recess.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:48 am |
  47. David Grantz

    My wife and I just retired from teaching, with a combined 70 years of experience. Hopefully this qualifies us to speak on this issue.

    Education's plight is inextricably tied to the strengths and the foibles of society at large. My wife and I taught in rural schools where family values and Ameican work ethic have not sunk into the malaise that affects urban and suburban districts. Thus, we could be effective in classroom with only minimal disruption from disfunctional adolescents. We also benefitted from the support of parents, who respected us as professionals.

    However, we also realize that within our profession, teachers in suburban and urban districts face daunting challenges, in their gigantic, depersonalized schools where kids are viewed as a commodity rather than as individuals. Having worked in large schools and in small ones, my wife and I can assure you that bigger is not better when it comes to public education. Since schools are a child's first step out of the family, they should be a nurturing extension of family. Kids get lost in these big schools, where seeking help is seen as weakness, and where counselors are relegated to scheduling and channeling the thundering herd into all of their classes.

    In the United States, we run education on the cheap, and yet education's price will always be paid, one way or another. For dollars not spent, we pay in dropouts and suicides. For students who fall through the cracks, we pay for larger prisons. Our country has always been penny foolish when it comes to our dearest legacy, our children.

    So how does one "fix" education. Begin by admitting that education fails because our families are failing. Then begin restructuring smaller schools based upon the love and nurturing that occurs in the best family that we can imagine. Train teachers that they must be the face of that love, not just purveyors of knowledge, and pay teachers a wage that draws the most energetic. compassionate and dedicated into the field. Kids are our nation's future, and they had better be worth every penny, or our schools will continue to struggle.

    Sure, institutions cannot repair every broken and disfunctional family, so schools will continue to struggle. But we owe it to ourselves to do what we can do to let children see that there is hope beyond the pain and a dream worth dreaming.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  48. Luke Kahlich

    While I understand the concern about the "Taj Mahal" school in LA, and its expense in this economy. In the discussion, I find it interesting that you chose things like "Dance Studio" as something that should not be in a school. I have taught dance in school (k-12, community and higher education) both general and major students. There has been a consistent connection for students in both groups for understanding and expressing themselves through the body they will carry with them for life,and yet this discipline is considered a "frill." Is it not important that we have this understanding and appreciation of ourselves? No one seems to blink at billion dollar stadiums, maybe since it "makes money" – we have never fully looked at education as investment in the future which can never compete in the market place day to day, but shapes what our lives will be like in years to come. We need to fundamentally rethink how we value education, and how we define education. If you look at the curricula it seldom follows the experience of the research. Thus we continue to mask and repeat mistakes.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:56 am |
  49. Karla Robeson

    We have spent so much time comparing and competing with other systems through testing our students, we have become a system that teaches for tests. Our teachers are overwhelmed with paperwork and procedures, our students no longer see the purpose or relevance in what they are being taught, and our administrators are expected to create corporate levels of performance in their schools regardless of the effect on students. How about we back up, take a deep breath and reset the priorities.
    1. Set reasonable start and finish times for school, with before and after tutoring programs that would encourage those who need some clarification of the day's lessons, or a safe place to be. (cheaper and more productive than repeating grades, dealing with dropout rates or juvenile services)
    2. Focus on teaching for mastery, instead of teaching to test – teachers will be energized by the ability to actually teach successfully for long term gain – they really do want to just TEACH!
    3. STOP the non-stop testing, look at overall perfomance – test anxiety, disrupting education schedule, loss of relevant content has been disastrous for scores which feeds the neverending cycle of testing yet again.
    4. RELEVANCE, RELEVANCE, RELEVANCE! How are the kids going to use this information in a practical way? Start work internships early for those who are interested, make sure the curriculuum makes sense for the future. Can they manage money, read contracts, understand technology, appreciate literature,feel comfortable parenting, have a work ethic? Are they developing skills to get a job as well as get into college?
    5. Maintain a real partnership with parents and community businesses – not lip service. Check out Monocacy Elementary School in Frederick MD – incredible renewal of interest and performance. Teach parents how to help their kids.

    August 30, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  50. jr

    as things stand, more days, fewer days, whatever, won't work...anyone who had success with home-schooling knows that the present school day, teaching methods, (not to mention poorly prepared teachers), and test-oriented curricula are a waste of time...what's needed are reforms that begin with more rigorous subject-oriented teacher training, (and less educationism), and continue through curriculum design ,(re-cognized objectives first!), and the k-12 structure itself which (see time waste above) actually retards the development of intellectual/critical capabilities, (there's no reason why grade ten-aged students can't be brought to a level of achievement far supreior to the present grade 12 level and, so, be given their diplomas and sent off into beginning liberal arts tracks for college or trade studies instead of the present grades 11 and 12) early period (roughly k-3) devoted to the development of enthusiasm for learning per se and cooperative effort is the essentail first step in any reform, (no matter the subject although laguages and culturally broadening experiences might be good foundations)...

    August 30, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  51. Experienced child care worker

    Head start or child care coalition workers (in Florida) cannot be expected verify financial information. All financial reporting or verification could be done by agencies familiar with such matters, such as the welfare department of the county. Even families not enrolled in a county or state program could have their income verified. They would take their verification to the head start registration office. The problem may also reflect that certain local centers are low in enrollees and therefore use the existing weakness in enrollment procedures to insure quotas.

    August 30, 2010 at 9:00 am |
  52. Laura

    As I read the preceding comments I realized that each have a piece of the truth, a facet of the multilayered situation our nation's schools are experiencing. There is no equity across our nation, Some of my grandchildren live in rural Idaho with the majority of students qualifying for the federal lunch program. The students are given a list of supplies to purchase, as has become common, supplies not only for the child but for the classroom and the teacher. Amounts ranging from $75 in elementary up to $200 in High School (includes $ to participate in sports). Since the 1970's our nation has also continued to experience increasing number of divorced families which impacts the mental health of each involved child and creates increasing numbers of single parent households, which places additional stressors on the family and home. (I was one of those) Pursuit of the elusive American Dream (which fo many equals credit card debt)Another compounding facet, the economy and the ever widening gap as we move towards a seemingly two class society, increasing numbers of homeless families, poverty rising,,,,,,Jobs?? We have become a consumer driven economy from the previous producer economy, to be "good consumers" we must work more to consume more, more debt, keeps the economy strong and has contributed to the absence of parenting..and on and on....If only it was as simple as choosing one thng that would "fix" our schools, if only we could blame parents? teachers? the children? our nation's lack of true committment to our nation's children ? Business sticking their greedy noses into schools? I have no answer, however I do believe this, responsible reporting would not present biased viewpoints nor choose opinions to sensationalize, this is a gravely critical situation our nation faces, Our children are Our future" that is simple and true. Be part of the solution, not through alienation, look for ways WE CAN move forward with a sense of hope and possiblity.

    August 30, 2010 at 9:01 am |
  53. Aliou, Florida

    Schools would benefit from essay type assessment rather than check list system.

    In maths, or history, if you are given a check list, you probably may guess if you have read the samples or study guides long enough. Many students don't bother to read the book and don't try to understand the course. THey just pass the paper, and forget a bout it the next day after the test. So classes are disconnected, and so is the education they receive.

    August 30, 2010 at 9:08 am |
  54. Stephen

    It's easy. Make two changes:

    1) Place the responsibility for performance in school back onto the parents by requiring each parent to contribute 20 hours of volunteer time

    2) Eliminate the no child left behind. Some children just aren't meant to earn a bachelor degree. Teach to the brighest to move society forward. We are becoming a a society of idiots who follow the pundits who don't have a clue.

    August 30, 2010 at 9:23 am |
  55. Harry

    simple here in N.C. Quit laying off teachers and lay off State Troopers.

    August 30, 2010 at 9:37 am |
  56. Steven, California

    I've witnessed teachers give the punishment of not allowing Physical Education class for children who were behaving badly that day. I would like to see a law enforced that teachers cannot, for any reason, at any time, deny any student their right to fresh air and exercise. The teachers could always give consequences in another way, at another time of day for those difficult students.

    August 30, 2010 at 9:39 am |
  57. Nick

    I think the solution to the schools is easy. Get the goverment and politics OUT of the schools. Stop trying to push political agendas on students. What happened to the basics like Math, English, and History (real History not revisionist History)? Politics have no business being in schools. It is up to the parents of the students to teach their children what they believe is the correct view of politics. Also, no child left behind is ridiculous. You don't get far in life by being given a pass. You must earn your way every step of the way and the sooner the children learn this, the better for them and for society in general.

    August 30, 2010 at 9:39 am |
  58. Beth

    Reduce class size to not exceed 15 students per class! That will solve 95% of classroom management problems! How do you do it? Remove the ridiculous amount of "specialists" in each district and put them back into the classroom!!

    August 30, 2010 at 9:40 am |
  59. C. Harold

    Stop blaming teachers and start supporting them. Reduce paperwork, but most of all, give them the tools they need. My wife teaches and has a Masters plus 30 hours plus Continuing Ed credits galore. When she reported to school to begin the year: not enough textbooks, no paper to reproduce syllabi, not enough chairs for then number of students per class, and students scheduled into second level classes who did not pass first level.

    Couple that with a culture in which parents don't participate, don't help students at home and don't expect their students to do homework, and you have set up everyone for failure. How is this the teachers' fault?

    August 30, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  60. Gary Cooper

    What I really thnk is that we should have career based schools. like if somone is wanting to be a doctor or nurse they should get better direct training in that field so college will be a smother transition

    August 30, 2010 at 9:44 am |
  61. Samuel

    Comments by the expert blogger re: "order in classroom" were right out of the book, "How to Discipline Teachers." I received more respect and had more receptive students while teaching college-level in a medium security prison than while teaching sixth-grade math.

    August 30, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  62. Helen

    The problem of low performing public school system is mainly caused by illegal immigration that is impacting our country much more than any other out of the 30 nations we are comparing with. With a mandatory school attendance that applies also to children of illegal immigrants, many of whom do not speak English and fall behind, our public schools are not able to absorb the burden without compromising on the quality of the educational process. At the cost of our children and teachers.

    August 30, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  63. James

    In all schools, you have students that learn fast and those that need more time to learn. When I was in school, we barely got through half of the math book. I was held back a lot because the teacher was having to go over the same equations every other day. We didn't have a program where the students who learned fast or slow could go after school and learn more. Yes, it takes away from time at home, but it can also advance students to better learning. I have been working overseas for the past 7 years in Asia and the students here always go to different events after their class to study. Set up some type of program for those that want to learn. Why do you think so many people from Asia do so well in schools? They have a strong goal to push the students to learn and study hard so they can get a good paying job when they graduate college. Take some insight from the different Asian cultures and implement it into our schools in the USA and you could possibly see a mass improvement. A lot of people in the US want to learn and do good in school, but many things hold them back.

    August 30, 2010 at 9:47 am |
  64. Carl Farrington

    I think if you created a social networking system just for schools, teachers, and students you would bring a familiar interface along with the technology to motivate and help fund the schools systems, improve grades, and extend school life to internet devices. Functions and features could be developed to encourage participation and used as incentives for grades and other levels of participation.

    August 30, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  65. Alan Torgeson

    The best teachers, are parents and grandparents and other trusted family members and friends.
    CNN should be mentioning the documented success of homeschooling and how much homeschoolers save tax payers every year. Approximately $12,000.00 per student per year. How patriotic is that? I'd say its amazingly patriotic. Not are homeschoolers are religious, either. We homeschool our children and we are atheist, and so are our friends. And if you read the real history of compulsory education, government factory modeled schools were designed to be the way they are. Schools are doing exactly what they set out to do. Its not about education, never was, its about harnessing the masses to work in an industrialized age. Read, books by John Taylor Gatto and learn about the honest history of compulsory education.

    August 30, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  66. Foley Harper

    I disagree with Steve Perry. Parents play a huge roll in the education of their children. I know many caring and motivated teachers, but they can't do their job if students are rude and unmotivated. I have had "college prep" students tell me " I don't feel like doing it" when I have assigned something in class. I have had "college prep" students refuse to give up their cell phones when they are ringing in class. I have had "college prep" students who refuse to go to the office when told to do so. There are entirely too many situations like this that waste teachers' teaching time. Mr. Perry's school must be extraordinary. From my experience, it hasn't mattered to some students that they will be disciplined; they don't care. It's the culture. And it only takes a couple of these types of students to disrupt class. And lately there have been more than just a couple of students like this in the classes where I used to teach. Most teachers and schools are doing all they know how to do and bending over backward to get students to pass so the schools will make AYP. Our school systems are in big trouble, but American society is at fault. In general, education is not valued in this country: being entertained by sports, movies and music and talking/texting on one's cell phone seem to be much more important to a great deal of our students.

    August 30, 2010 at 9:54 am |
  67. Francis Horne jr.

    Gauranteed fix! School boards, Department of Education on state and
    federal level, as well as any other high level education decision making office; should be made up of educators who have a proven track record of getting positive results! Teachers who have recieved outstanding rewards and recognition for creative teaching methods that have improved student performance in both challenged school systems as well other school systems, should be decision makers. Also principles who have enacted policies that have turned trouble schools around should also be the decision makers. I am trying not to get too political but if someone decided to investigate they would find the same "mind set" of people who want to constantly cut money for education, run the education system on all levels!

    August 30, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  68. RPL

    Ms. Kyra,
    At this time in Broward County & throughout Florida, the emphasis has been on improving Core Classes with good results, per the latest ratings. This is a good thing for the country.

    One must keep in mind that not all students will go to universities/college, the remaining must be taught a marketable skill to contribute to the economy. High School Vocational Classes are the introduction to what may or may not be their career choices.

    In the Broward County School System, the vocational classes are crowded to the point that 35-45 kids are in each vocational class, multiply that times 5-6 classes per teacher per day = 175 to 270 students per teacher. That is crowd control not education.

    This indicates:
    1. The dumping of lower performance students from the mandated low occupancy ‘core classes’, to non-core Vocation & PhysEd classes.
    2. The number of students that will not be advancing to higher learning, who need work-skill classes.
    3. This is often the last chance for the student to find an ‘interest in a career’, before they drop out altogether.
    Yet Broward County Schools has eliminated most of their vocational classes in the interest of cost!!

    Via Federal Dollars, a multitude of private ‘specialized work-skill’ centers have sprung up which are expensive for the student (or the tax payer) via their student-loan programs.
    This a good program provided the student has some direction of interest, otherwise it is very expensive for all. Some of these schools are under loan fraud investigation.

    If we do not invest in this portion of the student population today, we will be paying for their stay in our penitentiaries. $2000-4000 per student today or $20-40,000 per inmate next year?
    It is our choice!

    Corporal Punishment as a detterent will help.


    August 30, 2010 at 10:04 am |
  69. Foley Harper

    PS How about having Steve Perry go to the home of a single parent in a rural Georgia community and have him work with that family. It seems to me the home he went to had two parents who should have been able to cope better than a single parent who has a more difficult time trying to pay the bills and put food on the table. Sometimes the single parent has so much to cope with that he/she needs more help organizing time and ways to help his/her children to get the most out of their time at school. Some of these parents are having difficulty disciplining their children because they are so busy just trying to survive.

    August 30, 2010 at 10:15 am |
  70. Linda Costello

    Kyra, the place to begin the "fix" for America's school is not the classroom. It is the family home. Parents must realize that education is not something we go out to obtain like pizza. It begins at home. In my 35 years of teaching primary school children, it was my pleasure to work with a number of children who learned to read before attending school. They were bright but not functioning at "genius level". All of these early readers had several things in common: books, parents who read to them daily, parents (or other close adults) who read frequently, and a cultivated interest in reading. Kids who are encouraged learn more and faster than those who are not. Oh yes, one other thing, they were not disruptive, generally followed directions without protest.

    Part of the problem, currently, in our schools is behavior. I retired a number of years ago, but I continued to volunteer as a reading tutor. Without a doubt behavior that would have caused a child to be sent home when I first started work, is considered commonplace today.
    Teachers with many children to teach and care for can not be expected to socialize them and provide adequate instruction. Furthermore, teachers are not responsible for school culture. That is an administrative responsibility. Each school reflects the attitudes and the collective effort of every member of the community in which it exists. If schools are failing it is the failure of society to take proper interest in schools and support the efforts of the school community not "the teachers". Schools are not daycare facilities. They are places of serious learning even for the young. They can be joyous, exciting, institutions or they can be prisons that kids escape from as soon as possible. The choice must be a community choice. Everyone is responsible for our schools not just teachers...most of them are rowing and baling out the ship as hard as they can. Teachers need help not condemnation. I once worked in a remarkable elementary school in Orange County New York. It was supported by affluent and middle class and working class families who wanted their kids to get a good start in life. The first thing a new teacher learned was to attend the PTA meetings because most of the parents did. Therein was the secret of that successful school...parental support and concern.

    August 30, 2010 at 10:29 am |
  71. Retired teacher

    Teachers/teacher training are the keys to improving education. They need better training in classroom management especially, because the knowledge of content won't matter at all if you can't keep your students engaged and preserve a safe and secure classroom environment. Teachers, especially beginning teachers, need "master teacher" mentors, and those mentors need to spend real time with them, not just a few minutes each day or even each week. Young teachers make very bad habits in an effort to stay alive in the classroom, and mentors can intervene before this happens and help them choose more productive strategies. Instead of blaming teachers for poor student achievement and difficult behaviors, let's help them!!!

    August 30, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  72. Michael C.

    There is not just one thing that will fix our schools. But my Top 5 ways are: 1) Get back to the basics and do not forget the arts and physical education. 2) Make parental invlovement a must not an option. 3) Reward great teachers get rid of poor teachers. 4) Empower principles and teachers to discipline kids. Make the parent be there when discipline is administered to make sure it is not overboard. 5) Quit using school funds for after school activities and sports programs. Get corporate and community sponsorships for sports teams and have parents pay to play, adjusted by taxable income.

    August 30, 2010 at 11:31 am |
  73. Morey Asgari

    As a father, I was lucky to notice that my duaghter in the middle of sixth grade began to show signs of failure. So one day I made an appointment to have a meeting with her teacher while my daughter was also present. I became aware that every Friday between the hours of 8:30 and 9 am there was a parent-teacher meeting held in two classes. For the next two and half school years I attended every single of those Friday meetings. I sat with each of my daughter's teachers and took notes on every test she had taken and every test that she was going to have. After each meeting I went by the school's main entrance and waited for her school bus to arrive. I pulled her to a side and right there I reviewed my notes with her. At the same time every year I borrowed one of her math books and had it with me at my place (I was divorced back then.) when she called me and I went over her math problems. Also I would take both my dauhgters to a public library and worked with them. In addition, I registered her with Sylvan Learning Center to improve her math and writing skills.

    To make this story short, she did not fail her sixth grade and became an honor student in seventh and eighth grades. As she was getting ready to attend her senior high, she asked me to stop going to her new school. I think she did not want to be embarrassed in front of her friends. So I told her that if her grades started to down, I was going to start going to her school. I never had to go to her senior high school. She graduated with honors and pulled a 75% State of Florida scholarship when she attended FSU. Her younger sister never needed any help. She just watched what was happening to her older sister. She too graduated from FSU. It was a lot of hard work, but very satisfying and I am a very lucky and proud parent.

    Improving quality of education is very imoprtant which includes quality teachers. But I think parents involvement (love and attention to details) is equally or more important. Children must feel the presence of their parents in school.

    August 30, 2010 at 11:58 am |
  74. Cosmo Mastropaolo

    Children from 4th grade and above should evaluate their teachers on several simple components. Does the teacher come to school every school day, 2) does the teacher make the subject interesting 3) Is the teacher asking the students who have a hard time with the subject to see him/her after school4) has the teacher continued his her education so they can provide the students with the best.

    August 30, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  75. Cosmo Mastropaolo

    How about all students learning from the same books about the same subjects so they can pass standardize test and cost for books would be reduced. Centralize all books based on the SAT–no more having each district with different books. Not even their summer reading books are the same. Some kids read Treasure Island and others never heard of the book. Same with Tom Sawyer,
    Stop playing witrh our childrens future

    August 30, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
  76. Darryl Lee

    There are successful projects, programs and institutions doing great work all across the country and they receive very little if any exposure. It takes some special extraordinary feature in order for the adults to come together to make a progressive change.

    When the government, media and the parents want to make a change there will be substantial change there will be. Until then, this we continue to be sound bites for the media about how to fix the schools. If you're truly interested in correcting a problem it then becomes your primary focus of where all your attention goes.

    I advocate the following:

    1: A National database broken down regionally that can be viewed by all to review the effectiveness of the schools and their performance in vital areas such as test scores in academic areas, equipment, nutrition and environment.

    2: A life skills curriculum that is an after school program that teaches work readiness, life oriented training and mentoring leadership principles that are essential for child development

    3: A Parent-Child connection path where parents are engaged in their child's future when an action plan from career counselor/guidance counselor who are independent of the school system. They can work together if possible but independent entities then to be the most objective

    4: Artistic enrichment. Typically arts education remains special instead of mandated. There are many summer enrichment programs of which all kids should be required to attend that mix creativity and work disciplines to showcase talent while providing a great summer experience for the youngster.

    How do I know this works...I am doing it now!

    August 30, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
  77. Gene Lucas

    Go back to "traditional" education. Every since "modern" education took over, our schools have gone downhill like a snowball heading for hell.

    August 30, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  78. Terry Weatherhead

    I don't have a solution to solve school problem, but can impart what was method taught to me in 5th and 6th grade. My teacher in those grades was Mr. H. Black. This was in 1955 and 1956. He taught an innovative way to math which made it easier and very quick to add, subtract, and division. He also taught writing method which I still use to this day. He made it interesting and fun. More teachers should investigate different methods of teaching which make it fun and interesting to students. Might solve some a few problems. Thank you.

    August 31, 2010 at 8:43 am |
  79. Max L.

    As an upcoming high school senior, I've had some of the best and some of the worst.
    The one thing I've noticed about teachers is whether or not their passionate about the subject. I've had algebra teachers who just do it for the money. On the other hand, I've had history and marketing teachers who have multiple postgraduate degrees and are simply passionate about teaching and the subject at hand.
    That's what makes the difference between a good and bad teacher–passion.

    Schools need to hire teachers who've had experience in the subject and love talking about it.

    August 31, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  80. Jim

    There appears to be a tremendous amount of money wasted. Our property taxes have money going to schools then they add sales tax and bonds and lottery at times. Where is all this money going? 500.00 hammer? Also teachers make a real difference. Through HS I struggled with English and grammar breakdowns of sentences and the such. Finally in my Senior year I had a great teacher who thought outside the book and my first year in college all came to light and made sense finally. Prior to that all the teachers were so book oriented that you could not get a real grasp. Teachers need to think out of the box and help make it fun especially with something like English and grammar which can be so boring.

    August 31, 2010 at 9:02 am |
  81. Xavier Curbelo

    We are living in difficult times and the people are expecting that the goverment do everything for them. Now is the time to rise like nation and work with our kids because they are the future, we have to be more involve in school matter, we need to volunteer at school and do anything for our community. There are many professional parents unemployee or not working at all, just take a little of time to be a volunteer for you own kids. Just see the two math teachers in Detroit, what a different they do for this kids.


    August 31, 2010 at 9:39 am |
  82. chris

    American students go to school on average 180 days a year for about 6 hrs a day thats less than 6 months of the year, there is no way they will they keep up with the rest of the world like that. Stop watching reality TV, put down the cell phone, turn off the i pod and facebook and study. school should year round.

    August 31, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  83. Tiffany

    My grandmother taught in the Chicago Public School system for over 30 years. One of the biggest problems are children with behavior issues. There are many chlidren being placed in "special" classes due to behavior issues. These children, in my opinion, don't learn anything because noone wants to deal with them and they end up dropping out or having to repeat. A teacher is just that. Their job is to teach your children such things as math, science, etc. It is NOT to raise your child. Parents are not doing their job as parents. They are too busy trying to be their child's friend. Teachers can also do things to keep the students attention. Alot of kids get bored and lose focus. Show the child that you are willing to help them when they need it and want it. Some teachers feel that if the parent(s) don't care about their child why should they.

    August 31, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  84. Jamie

    How can you continually put someone like Steve Perry on your show? I am a veteran teacher who can see through educational shylocks like a clean window. Steve Perry is the worst. It wouldn't be bad if he'd spent many years in the classrooms of today's toughest schools. Then he might realize that it isn't just firing teachers that gets results. When will people realize that blaming unions is not the answer? It begins at home. My wife and I are both teachers AND parents. Our own kids achieve at a very high level. Many of their friends (and our own students) just don't, and it breaks our hearts. The difference? We know what our children are doing every night of the week. Their homework has been checked for so many years that it is no longer a concern. We attend ALL conferences and stay in tough with their teachers. They have rules and standards. It is too easy to point the finger of blme at the schools.Teachers and administrators are too busy to fight back. This year I am teaching two classes I have never taught because of budget cuts. This is not because we did not meet our goals. It is because WE HAVE NO MONEY. For too many years we have been led to believe that the horrid, greedy, teacher's unions are the root of all American educational woes? Not true. If the truth be told, they are the ones who should be asked what to do. No one wants to ask because part of the answer deals with adequate funding. Not more money in teacher's pockets, more money for supplies and infrastructure and technology. Can you imagine Google or IBM running on the types of shoestring budgets we in public schools are forced to run on? Yet we are charged with the responsibility of preparing today's tech savvy students for a futrure in a high tech workforce. Playing SONY Playstation isn't going to do it. Proper funding of schools will. Tell Mr. Perry to GET A LIFE!

    August 31, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  85. Jamie

    Steve Perry? Who is he? How many years has he spend in struggling schools? In his charter school are parnets involved? I would say they are. Do they check homework? Yes. Do they regularly attend conferences? Most assuredly. I am a long-time teacher. I know the magic behind these strategies. Those parents who follow through for their kids never blame teachers or poor schools. Their kids are the one-percenters of this world! Steve Perry is no kind of wonder-principal who fixes schools by firing teachers. He takes in no special needs children and brags about high graduation rates. I could do the same thing if I had no special education children to teach. However, EVERY child deserves an education. This problem goes much deeper than blaming teachers unions or feighning shock when a Taj Mahal-like school like in L.A. appears in the horizon. Let's get serious, America. Quit looking for quick fixes. Fund the schools like we fund wars. Books, not bombs.

    August 31, 2010 at 10:17 am |
  86. Suzanne

    I am an avid CNN viewer. I just watched your segment on Saddam Hasan and must say what an outstanding job you do when reporting a story. I look forward to your personal reports. You have a way of bringing the audience into your stories. You are one of the best anchor, journalist, CNN has. Keep up the great job Kyra

    August 31, 2010 at 10:42 am |
  87. Ambrose Taylor

    I would hope you all at CNN are able to comprehend a simple truth – in order to "fix our schools" schools need funding. Funding our education system is the first and most effective means of improving quality in education. We have been cutting and firing (because of funding cuts) for years and now we wonder why kids are getting a substandard quality education. Some teachers are paying for classroom materials out of their own meager salaries; some people who would've become teachers never doing so because of such a low income bracket. Isn't it clear? It's a money problem.

    August 31, 2010 at 11:49 am |
  88. chris

    funding is a problem, when you continue to put the burden of paying for it on the home owner. we need to get past the false statements that teachers and administrators are underpaid.upper 5 figure and 6 figure salaries are not under paid. it is not true when in a small community they make more than the average worker and have teachers aids and the end product can not find Kansas on the map. Please!!! That's always the first thing thrown out just pay them more and it will change, when actually maybe it's a combination of poor parents overindulged kids and yes lousy teachers that have caused the problem.

    August 31, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  89. Greg

    Don't get side tracked by math... The problem lies in the inability to read. Democrats have taken phonics out of the Public Schools. The English Language is a Phonetic language and can't be read with PHONICS.

    August 31, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
  90. Sara

    A student will only be as good as the teacher. A teacher will only be as good as the administrator. An administrator will only be as good as its board and/or superintendent. It trickles down.

    August 31, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  91. Dung Chau

    In my opinion based on my 8-year experience in high-school teaching in Vietnam and my sixteen-year experience in studying in USA to get my Master Degree in Telecom Engineering in UNL, I recognize that if we need to fix our schools, we need to fix the teachers' head and heart. In fact, we can not improve our school without good teachers. I still remembered what my professor told me when I was studying to become high-school teachers in Vietnam. He told me that a good teacher needs to have a good head and a good heart. For example, if a math teacher doesn't know anything about math, he cannot teach math to students. In addition, if he doesn't like math, he cannot teach students so that they can also like math as him. More importantly, if he doesn't like to teach, he cannot help students to understand what he 's saying. Finally, it's quality problem of almost teachers in America. They cannot teach students with a good head and a good heart.

    August 31, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
  92. Sharon Salisbury Minor

    I know schools wan't parents to be more involved in there kids schools but the way they have to work to give the kid's the things they need and to pay the bills to make ends meet is very hard ....and the schools require the kids to provide some expensive things for the grade they need ...and now both the parents have to work and a house requires two incomes no way around it....fix the PAY TO MATCH THE ECONOMY FIRST THIN SAY YOU NEED TO PARTISAPATE IN SCHOOL ACTIVITYS.. Jobs are now puting in to many Temps insted of giving jobs out right to people and then working temps to death to match there customers needs...This must stop...

    September 1, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  93. Pam R

    I don't know about the other 49 states, but in Arizona it is ILLEGAL to hold students accountable for supplies. The schools must provide all required subject matter materials.

    September 1, 2010 at 6:47 pm |
  94. Michelle Annese

    I want to thank CNN and Principle Perry for tackling such a multi-faceted and problematic topic of education in our country AND the solutions to fix it. I REALLY enjoy his energy and no-nonsense approach. (He really needs a Facebook page 🙂 My husband and I are parents and own a small corporation in a small town in VA with 80% of our kids on assisted lunch programs. We work very closely with all of our schools, parents and educators.

    I agree with Principle Perry when he said throwing money at our broken education system isn't going to work anymore. Parents and community NEED to have a vested interest in the whole system of education. Doesn't anyone realize the younger generations will be the ones taking care of the older generations? I want them educated, successful, self starters, and problem solvers if they are going to take care of me someday.

    One of our superintendent of schools said in a meeting "Parents think they are experts in education because they all went to school."

    We definitely do not give our educators enough credit! And kudos to those parents that take the responsibility and learn new tools and ways to help their children flourish!

    My question: How do we truly convince parents the value of helping their children instead of having the mentality that the schools will take care of it all ex: sex ed, healthy eating, studies, fitness, character building, values, the arts etc.

    My husband and I try very hard to lead by example donating our time, resources and funds to our community. We even send our children to a city school – paying extra money for them to go to out of district.

    Thank You for the soapbox.

    September 2, 2010 at 7:26 am |