I know how to fix schools. Really.
Nobody knows how to fix all schools for all kids. Of course. It’s rather like the time-honored phrase, “God only knows.” Indeed, if you believe in God, as I do, that “only God knows” or “God only knows,” well, then you have that all-important slice of humility that permits us all to live in a society with cars, guns, the stock market, and baseball (God willing, this year).
Notwithstanding a claim that refutes a humble perspective and the need to maintain something on the other side of the fence from hubris and conceit, I know how to fix schools. I am not kidding.
Being part politician, part engineer, part math teacher, and part day trader, as well as a Christian, a Catholic, a Kansan, a father, a grandfather by marriage, a taxpayer, a Republican, a baseball fan, and a public speaker, I have come to realize that I cannot effectively write THE FIX on a bumper sticker. In fact, the closest I have come to a bumper-stocker slogan for fixing schools is this: Better Schools, Fewer Rules.
Catchy, isn’t it? Better Schools; Fewer Rules. Sure. That’s the best I can do in four words.
In five words THE FIX might be stated: Welcome the Public Into Schools.
In ten words THE FIX could be summarized with this: You Do Not Have To Attend Teachers’ College To Teach.
It becomes clear with just a bit of reflection that there are many, many pieces to public education in America. Books have been written. Laws are passed, adjusted, and promulgated again and again. Students and teachers keep coming into buildings every August or September, and leaving every May or June, and we stay pretty much fixed on three-quarters of our children getting a decent education. Concomitantly, about one-fourth are shortchanged.
I know how to drop that 25 percent who are shortchanged down to just a percentage point or two.
Seriously, I have studied the thing, been in and out of the thing, chewed on the thing, wrestled with the thing, and loved and hated this thing we call public education. We need it. Our citizenry needs to be educated in a variety of ways and schools have an important role to play in making America great, or keeping America great, or restoring the greatness of our country, or making things better for the common good, or whatever metaphor you desire for a “more perfect union.”
And, just so you know. Teaching is not union work. We’ll get to that…
My name is Steve Roberts. I honestly know how to fix schools. Increasingly, our Commissioner of Education, Dr. Randy Watson, realizes that my “courage” to say “you do not have to go to teachers’ college to be a great teacher” is part of the fix. He tries to encourage me to take more credit for this. Unfortunately, my fellow board members are stuck with the lie. The lie says that teacher preparation by the state-approved teacher training apparatus is essential; it is not. The insidious lie undergirds most of our failing schools. And despite what some educators and politicians will tell you about how “there are no failing schools in Kansas,” let me assure you, there are plenty of failing schools, failing students, failing families, and failing educational programs in the Sunflower State. In every state, in fact, there are classrooms with instructors who have no business trying to inculcate kids with anything.
Now, instead of trying to tell you right here all we need to do, and the list is fairly extensive to make schools work well for any student who wants it (and because a handful of students and families truly do not want schooling, we will never get to 100 percent) I have a document with Talking Points to get us there.
You can read it here: How to Fix American Education Starting in Kansas.
Now, technically, I am a candidate for the United States Senate. But I am really a candidate without a campaign. I have neither the time nor the money to campaign for the office. I simply know how to fix schools.
Wish me luck. Our country needs better schools with fewer rules.