Jay Matthews, who knows everything about education, has offered seven brilliant ideas on how we can improve it without spending money. After all, with the state of big-screen TVs and affordable home theater, why should we fritter away our hard-earned cash on educating our children?
1. Stop spending money on textbooks or giving young kids homework. Just ask them to do a little reading with their parents. It's well-known that all parents, without exception, will participate if asked. To make sure this is done, the teachers can ask a few questions about what they read. It's obvious to experts like Mr. Matthews that kids never lie to their teachers or invent stories about having done things they haven't actually done.
2. We need more cut-rate charter schools. They're cheaper. Of course, they aren't cheaper in Mr. Matthews' district, or in NYC, but somewhere, they're cheaper. And because they're not unionized, you don't need to pay teachers as much. You can say you're paying them more, and ignore the fact they work twice as many hours. One good thing is these teachers don't last very long, so you never need to worry about them reaching higher pay steps. And if they get anywhere close, you can always fire them, since they don't have any job protection whatsoever. Plus you don't have to offer them the same health benefits those expensive unionized teachers are always carrying on about. Of course, this suggestion has nothing whatsoever to do with the book Matthews just wrote about KIPP.
3. Have teachers call parents and tell them their kids are doing well. It's well-known that teachers never call parents. We're technologically backward and afraid of damaging our fingers. It's never occurred to me to call a parent. In fact, I wasn't even sure what a telephone was until I looked it up on Wikipedia. And though cellphones are prohibited in NYC classrooms, like most classrooms, you should never hesitate, as a role model, to take yours out and use it in front of your students.
4. Have parents call or email to praise teachers. Since teachers are taken for granted, this will be a fine thing. Who needs salary increases? It's well known that teachers don't have bills, mortgages, expenses, or children of their own. A little pat on the back ought to be good enough for any self-respecting educator.
5. Make kids read one nonfiction book before graduation. It's common knowledge that kids don't read anything unless they're forced to do so. So why not vary their misery by forcing them to read something that isn't fiction? It's unheard of for anyone to make a kid read a biography or memoir, the stacks of them in every bookroom I've ever seen notwithstanding. It's well-known they're placed there only to class up the joint.
6. Teachers should call on all their students. Most teachers make it a habit to ignore their students, speaking with them only to demand money for writing recommendation letters. But apparently, students benefit when you talk to them. Apparently, letting the kids sit like 34 bags of potatoes is not optimal. Who woulda thunk it? Where would we be without such expert advice?
7. Give teachers time off without pay. It appears that, when you don't pay teachers, you save money. And Jay Matthews is willing to walk the walk by allowing his wife to take one week off. This places his family in the position of having to get by on a mere Washington Post columnist income, plus 51 weeks worth of whatever his wife earns. So why can't you teachers make do with a little less? Matthews, who makes many times your salary, is willing to put off the 68-inch plasma for a few weeks, so why should you be squawking just because they're repossessing your Hyundai? It's bad for the environment anyway.
Thanks, Mr. Matthews, for your great ideas. And anytime you need more, just come visit NYC, where we save by having the highest class sizes in the state. We overload schools well beyond double capacity, and don't bother to clean or repair them. If there's any vacant space, we dump charter schools in rather than relieve our public schools. And we dump kids anywhere, closets, hallways, bathrooms, and what-have-you. We use mayoral control to exclude absolutely every expensive voice from the decision-making process.
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