Tough economic times, require new approaches to education

by January 5, 2009 • 2 comments

One has to wonder how public education in Florida will be transformed by decreasing enrollment and a shrinking state budget (Enrollment down 30,000 at Florida’s public schools).  Some people are discussing doom and gloom scenarios while others argue the tough times will encourage us to find more efficient ways to educate our kids.

We probably can’t do much to change the economy, but we can work together to come up with innovative approaches to provide high quality education at a reasonable cost.  Some of the latest approaches include on-line “virtual” schools, international models and back-to-basics options.  In each model, the goal is to teach more job specific skills for less money.

In addition to changing the way we teach our children academic subjects, some experts suggest we should rethink how extra-curricular activities are organized and funded.  In the January 4, 2009 News Herald article, What is in their wallets, Pat McCann talks about cuts to high school athletic programs. If we continue to run the programs with the same approach without large budgets, the quality will erode quickly.  Some pundits suggest we can provide the same or more attractive options by allowing outside organizations to offer these services.  In Europe, for example, professional sports organizations run youth teams.  In the US, national and regional sports organizations could possibly fill this role.

The thought of different types of schools and  extra curricular options is a bit unnerving.  However, in the current economic environment, creativity and flexibility are important.  If we want our kids to have the best options, we will all probably have to start thinking outside the box.

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1 Joe January 6, 2009 at 7:49 am

I have written the governor asking why Florida doesn’t have a deposit on bottles and cans for recycling purposes. I was told that it was too much trouble for stores to take them back. How about having the schools take them and make some money while teaching the students a little business?

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2 J D Webster January 6, 2009 at 7:56 am

The solution to the poor quality of public education is to force it to compete with the real innovators in education: the private schools. How? By allowing the parents to participate in their childrens education. Public schools are grossly inefficient, and turn out a disturbingly poor “product”. Voucher systems will allow parents to re-enter the process of educating their children. Compare the education received in the Bay County schools with the education received at St. John’s, Bay Haven, Covenant, or Holy Nativity. Better education for less; because the parents are involved!
Poor public education places all of us at risk; where are the innovators and inventors that will move our society into “the future”? They are not coming from the public schools; the teachers cannot teach because they are too busy preparing the students for the FCAT. The whole public education mess needs to be scrapped; as it exists it is serving no-one except maybe the principals and the administration. We pay the cost now; our children and grandchildren will suffer the cost in the future!

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