Education

If They Were President

By Josh Cohen — October 20, 2008 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Creating equity among schools should be the top priority of the next president, according to the people who know best—teachers.

That’s the conclusion of a recent survey of teachers by TeachersFirst, a nonprofit that provides teaching materials like lesson and unit plans. The group asked its several-thousand members to choose the top three priorities for American education reform from a list of twelve options. More than 250 teachers responded to the survey, nearly half of whom have been teaching for more than 20 years.

Equity among schools was the most popular recommendation, with 57 percent of respondents selecting it. According to a TeachersFirst press release, equity was defined in the survey as, “ensuring that all schools have equal access to adequate facilities, equipment, and materials.”

“Schools should not be penalized financially when they are having a difficult time achieving high test scores,” one respondent commented. “These schools need even more financial support because they are usually from poverty-stricken areas. The current system is totally unfair. I have to buy about $1000 worth of art supplies yearly.”

The next most urgent priorities for the teachers surveyed were finding alternatives to standardized testing and encouraging greater parent involvement. These items were selected by 55 and 44 percent of respondents, respectively. The rest of the nine choices were ranked as follows:

  • Strengthening teacher preparation (30 percent)
  • Improving physical safety (29 percent)
  • Emphasizing math, science, and information literacy (29 percent)
  • Strengthening early learning and pre-K programs (26 percent)
  • Improving access to technology (25 percent)
  • Finding ways to reward good teaching (15 percent)
  • Funding universal after-school programs (13 percent)
  • Involving the business community (10 percent)
  • Extending the school day and year (9 percent)

In addition to ranking the twelve options provided, the teachers were encouraged to provide suggestions and ideas for reform that weren’t on the list. Their write-in suggestions ranged from increased teacher pay to more student accountability to a revival of the “magic” in schools. That respondent explained, “We need to put the magic back in education and give our young people a reason to be in school. By magic, I mean the arts: visual art, music, drama, dance, etc.”

One particularly snarky commentator voiced frustration with government mandates on schools: “I am really tired of politicians telling educators how to do their job when they can’t do their own.”

The National Education Association, which has endorsed Senator Barack Obama, has also chimed in with priorities for the next president. The nation’s largest teachers union created a chart comparing Senator Obama and Senator John McCain’s positions with the its own positions on 14 important education issues, including teacher pay, to No Child Left Behind, to reducing class size. Senator Obama matched the NEA’s positions on all 14 of the stated issues, according the union. Senator McCain’s stances ranged from partial matches with the NEA’s stances to opposite stances on all 14 of the issues.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
Strategies for Incorporating SEL into Curriculum
Empower students to thrive. Learn how to integrate powerful social-emotional learning (SEL) strategies into the classroom.
Content provided by Be GLAD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: June 12, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 29, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 8, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: April 17, 2024
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read