We asked readers on our e-mail panelhow they’d improve U.S. schools.Increasing teacher pay and makingparents more accountable tied forfirst (
). Their other suggestions:
“Teach a subject, not how to takea federally mandated test.”
“Use a pay-for-performance systeminstead of pay based on longevity.Eliminate tenure.”
“Require students to completecommunity service to graduate.”
“Make learning a cooperativeexercise rather than a rote memorychore.”
Merritt Island, Florida
“Leverage technology to ensurethat rural, suburban, and urban stu-dents have equal opportunities.”
“Get rid of gadgets. Kids have nosocial skills these days.”
“Understand that not every childlearns at the same rate.”
Fayetteville, North Carolina
“Take chairs away. Allow studentsto stand at worktables.”
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Over the years, I’ve taught my13-year-old cat, Smokey, to shake, sit,kiss, and sit up. You’re right aboutthe need for patience and the factthat food is a great motivator.
Lenore Skenazy’s column about allthe fearmongering products for ner-vous parents made me laugh (“Bub-ble Babies”). What she describes isso true. My advice to new parents:Buy the items, like electrical outletcovers, that truly protect againstsafety hazards—and skip the rest.
When my friends and I were grow-ing up in the ’70s, our moms didn’thound us with anti-germ gel or putevery last bit of protective gear onus when we went out to play. Tryingto keep kids safe from the world willnot help them in the long run. I’msick of all these products turningAmerican kids into wusses.
Connie L. Harding,
While many of the gadgets seemridiculous, I admit that I’ve used myfair share. Right before my sonlearned to walk, we installed newBerber carpeting. Before I knew it,his knees were bleeding from crawl-ing on it. I would have loved to findthose knee pads then! Instead, Imade some out of socks. Necessityis often the mother of invention,even if it seems silly to others.