TN 19, More Flexible Schooling for Safety and Success
Freedom from rigid requirements can make learning fun. A school could be a happy place. Safety could be a priority without turning a school into a prison, or teachers into wardens. Having better options in place doesn't have to be expensive. Most of the time having rigid requirements ends up being more expensive.
When you allow students, parents and teachers more flexibility, you may be surprised by their abilities. Putting teachers under strain to "get results", prioritizes metrics over the learning environment. More flexibility will make teachers and students lives happier, because it gives them a chance to succeed on a personal level that would be difficult to measure.
We are not one size fits all, so a flexible school system will free us to be happier, and more productive as citizens. We cannot afford to let people fall through the cracks because they are unable to succeed in a standard school environment. Move the target for success, and suddenly less lives unravel under the strain of unrealistic expectations and the resulting failures. Give our students the chance to succeed.
TN 19, Changing the Way Schools are Run
We want safer schools. To ensure that schools are safe, we should not give untrained citizens guns and expect them to act as a security militia. Teachers will not be forced to act as security and should not have guns. Schools that require security should allow commitments of volunteer veteran police and army officers, which will be overseen by the Sheriff's department.
Truancy laws unfairly target the poor with monetary punishments, which often lead to jail for inability to pay. We shouldn't target the poor with truancy laws. Students don't belong to the government, and so after the age of 12, students will not be forced to attend schools under threat of law. An adolescent that doesn't wish to learn in school, may make a disruptive student or may even become a violent threat to others in the school. Students should be in school to learn, not because of the threat of imprisonment for non-attendance.
Self-paced education is an important milestone for schools. By recognizing that students won't necessary fit an average level of performance, schools become a better environment for both the fast paced learner, and the slower paced learner. By allowing a flexible time schedule of learning goals, schools can accommodate all learning styles. This avoids creating dangerous psychological strain for slow learners, and will allow access to early college for those who are faster paced. This will apply principally to non-vocation learning paths, as vocational schooling should allow proper experience with the tools and procedures of the workshop.
TN 19 will introduce a new option for parents and students to consider: flex-schooling. With a flexible schooling option there will only be 2 days required a week. Self-motivated students will only need to attend one tutoring, workshop, or lecture day. They will then follow up with a testing, follow up, or independent study day. Standard schooling of 5 days a week will still be allowed for those who want or need it.
TN 19 will also introduce volunteer tutoring and better vocational schooling. Volunteer tutors will either be parents or senior level students who are seeking more involvement. This will allow class groups to be smaller, as tutoring could supplement or replace traditional lecture in certain circumstances. The vocational options will be driven by the current demands of the job markets, and may have to be more diverse than current options. Job placement will also be given more of a priority on the high school level for vocational students.
The 10th amendment right of states to control schooling will be reinforced in TN 19. The presence of the small percentage of funding from the federally run Department of Education should not totally dictate policy, as it is often intended to do. This will allow the state to make decisions that are better on a regional level, instead of being dictated by decision-makers who may not know or care what is best for schools in Tennessee. Our aim is for Tennessee to become a leader in education that helps students to reach their full potential, whether that falls in line with what law-makers may wish them to be, or not.
Once high school students, 14 years or older, go through the requirements of a self-paced curriculum, they should be given their diplomas without fuss. If the amount of unseasonal graduations is sufficient, several graduation ceremonies could be scheduled throughout the year. Students being driven through the educational system by their own goals, also frees the teacher from merit increases based on test scores. There are less mercenary means of determining the effectiveness of the teacher, and rewarding them on their efforts.
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