4 Problems + 4 Solutions for Stockton Schools

By: Taleya Uriate

In this article, I highlight five critical issues faced by students in Stockton and make recommendations to improve educational conditions there. Major areas to be addressed include school curriculum, excessive testing culture, teacher quality, and opportunities for students to express their individuality.

Address School Curriculum

Stockton schools desperately need to modernize their curriculum. Books and texts provided to students often tell of a time far gone. This is not to suggest that the historical review should be discontinued. There is indeed a great appreciation of the past. The call here is for schools to incorporate narratives that draw from contemporary issues being faced by society.

Perhaps an unknown consequence of reading older material is the vast availability of resources that students have to draw upon. Students have computers in the palms of their hands, which provide access to a world of information. If given a school assignment for a classic book like the Great Gatsby or To Kill a Mockingbird, there are many options that will allow students to complete their assignment without ever being required to read the book. In this scenario, students aren’t learning.

A solution could be to offer students newer texts. These texts are less likely to have been researched and analyzed. Further, contemporary books that closely align with issues students care about may pique students’ interest and lead to increased engagement.

Shift Testing Culture

We need to address our attitudes towards learning. There is an established norm that suggests that the purpose of learning is to simply pass a test. If students are able to pass tests, we deem them as being appropriately educated. In reality, we have created a system that rewards students’ ability to memorize information.

Without having alternative ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge we have defaulted to an environment of hyper testing. Students are often tested back to back and have developed learning habits that allow them to momentarily repeat information without any need or intention of long-term retention.

To address the excessive testing culture, we could simply stop testing so frequently. This of course is a surface solution, and would not satisfy the need to ensure that students are learning the material being taught. What is truly needed are teachers who are able to use methods to evaluate student learning that goes beyond test taking. The unfortunate reality is that not all students will have access to such teachers.

Improve Teacher Quality

Students often voice concerns about teacher quality. Complaints about the inability of teachers to effectively do their jobs can be found in both public traditional and public charter schools. As the primary consumer of education, it is important that student voices are heard, especially when they communicate that they are experiencing difficulty learning because of adult incompetence.

Far too frequently, student voices are dismissed. How serious student feedback is taken may be impacted by adult beliefs about students themselves. For instance, if students are characterized as having behavioral issues, undisciplined, and rude, their opinions are far more likely to be discredited.

Solutions must accomplish two outcomes: they must accurately capture student feedback about their teachers and actually be used to make needed adjustments.

Embrace Student Individuality

School environments are very structured. They leave little room for individuality, and can at times remind you of prisons. Students are required to follow dress codes, and follow regimented daily schedules. There are even protocols for how to move in various spaces, like walking in lines while in hallways. When expectations aren’t followed students are met with negative reinforcement.

Many students don’t feel free to express themselves when they are at school. They attend school out of obligation, not because they are happy about being there. To solve this problem, schools should provide greater opportunities for students to exercise freedom of choice.

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