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Starting the New School Year on the Right Foot

Strategies for Saving Our Failing Schools
Les Stein

As the traditional K-12 public school calendar kicks off, both teachers and their students' parents must accept responsibility for their respective schools' success. It is unfortunate that we live in a culture of excuses, where people often like to blame everyone except themselves for the failures around them. We simply don't have time for excuses - there is mounting evidence that our students are falling behind their global peers. As the school year begins we need to commit ourselves to a spirit of collaboration, hard work, and a focus on academic excellence. The following list is certainly not all-inclusive, but it should serve as a good starting point for what our public school teachers and their students' parents need to do in order to help make all children successful in school:

Parents:

1. Take school seriously, and let your children know that it is their responsibility to do their very best, every day.
2. Let your children know that you will help and support them every step of the way.
3. Make a clear commitment to supporting your children's school and their respective teachers.
4. Make sure your children complete their homework (take a look at it - don't just assume it was done) and respond to all correspondence from the teacher or school.
5. Your children need to have a proper balance between academics, play, and rest. Set up a schedule that adequately supports each of these. Most importantly, make sure your children get at least eight hours of sleep every night.
6. Turn off the television and video games - read with your children for at least a half hour each day.
7. Don't sit on the sidelines when it comes to your children's education - GET INVOLVED.

Teachers:

1. Teaching isn't a job - it's a profession. Remind yourself that everything you do in the classroom will have an impact on the future of your students.
2. Don't manage your students - lead them.
3. Commit yourself in time and effort to being the very best in your profession.
4. Arrive at school at least a half hour before your students and stay after school, long enough to be ready for the next day, make a few calls to parents as needed, and to coordinate and communicate with your fellow teachers - especially those who teach the same grade level as you.
5. Come to school with a positive attitude and leave your personal problems at home.
6. It is not your students' fault that you are underpaid and underappreciated. Don't take your frustrations out on them and don't give less than 100% effort in the classroom.
7. Remember - your influence will have a significant impact on your students' futures.