One proposal to reverse negative educational trends is to require all fifth graders to take a basic skills exit exam. Those who do not pass would go to a remediation school for one year before moving to middle school. After eighth grade, students who still can’t perform basic skills would be assigned to a technical program to learn other job skills as part of their education. No clogging up classrooms with students who some just want to pass along out of the system when they can’t multiply seven times three in the 11th grade. Furthermore, we have to quit coddling middle- and high-school kids who create serious disruptions in the classroom that slow down other students.
We also hope leaders recognize that most teachers work extremely hard and haven’t had a decent raise in several years. In fact, they have taken the brunt of increased retirement contributions and fewer textbook and classroom supply funds from both parties. A 2 percent pay raise is simply not enough after the hits that have been taken since 2008. We know budgets are tight, but there must be a way to provide more funding to the classrooms in the form of textbooks, supplies and raises that keep up with the increasing costs of energy, health care and taxes seen under the Obama administration.
Russ Wallace, Coach and educator, Gordo
Don Wallace, businessman, Tuscaloosa