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August 3, 2013 Uncategorized

How to fix schools

Drew LHad a marvelous sail with three couples that lasted almost five hours with extended conversation and laughter.
One fellow is a high school teacher on the Peninsula who, under questioning, allowed that disadvantaged children are quite capable of high achievement in science courses if given encouragement by their parents, including single parents. He said the one factor that would improve secondary education is class size.
“I can teach 20 students better than 30, and I can teach 15 disadvantaged students well if the class is limited to 15. But I can’t teach them as well in a class of 30.” Virginia public schools are supposed to have a ratio of 13.2 students to 1 teacher, but the rate is skewed by many factors, including low ratios for special ed students.
He lamented that as few as 15 students in the entire school of 1,500 are disruptive enough to influence scores of other children who drift along with the wrong crowd. The really bad kids simply don’t come to school in the first place, or rarely enough just to qualify for social services benefits. I came away marveling at his ability to reach high-performing “uber” students as well as those in poverty. We are well served.
On a lighter not, once there was a power failure at his high school that inexplicably set off the security ankle bracelet of a student who was on parole. Three other teens grabbed their ankles to see if it was them, but it wasn’t. All were in the same class.
We also watched a Navy destroyer transit the Coleman Bridge to the Naval Weapons Station.

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