THE BLOG
12/06/2010 06:17 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

If I Ran the Schools

There is a new trend in education and frankly, I don't like it.

Unfortunately, you don't have to be an educator to be at the helm of an educational system.

Years ago, it was impossible for an educator to rise to the top of the system without having established degrees and qualifications such as a PhD, classroom experience, administrative experience and academic hours in educational management.

The new sense in big city governments is to treat education less as a profession and more as bean counting. The thinking is to manage the process while the children, teachers and parents become peons.

Take, for example, Mayor Bloomberg of New York City, who just named Cathie Black, an extraordinary magazine editor, as chancellor of New York's public school system. She is the editor who put Oprah's magazine, O, on the map, as well as other Hearst publications.

Mayor Richard M. Daley named Ron Huberman, a former Chicago Police Officer and Daley's Chief of Staff, as head of the Chicago Public School System. (One bright note: Huberman's interim replacement, Terry Mazany, has served as the president and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust (CCT) since 2004. In that role, Mazany served as the chief operating officer and as director and senior program officer for the Education Initiative where he spearheaded the design and implementation of the Trust's initial $50 million commitment to improving Chicago schools, according to reports).

This thinking is dangerous to me; however, it is an obvious modern trend that political powers have grabbed on to.

Faithful readers of N'DIGO are familiar with my background in the community college system, and will recall that, years ago, I made noise about City College systems naming Nelvia Brady as Chancellor of the system. True, Brady held a PhD in education, but she was not qualified to teach in the system, and that was the point of my complaint. However, by today's lax standards, Brady could become an educational czar.

So, what happened to the mandatory qualifications of educators? Did the politicians take it away because of the tight economy, and can anybody now teach?

In this anything goes political climate, an important question for the mayoral candidates is, who would they appoint to head the educational system? The answer would speak volumes; would it be an educated, professional educator or would we pull from the non-profit, corporate, or professional managerial pools?

If I were to be appointed by one of the 'would-be' mayors, the following would be my platform for the Chicago Public Schools:

Uniforms. All students would wear uniforms to school. The colors would vary from school to school, and students could vote on the colors, since they would have to wear the uniforms. This simple dress code change would eliminate the gang colors and would equalize social status. Boys would wear ties to school starting in kindergarten. Grammar school boys would wear shirts and ties. High school boys would wear sports jackets. THIS WOULD MARK AN END TO SAGGY PANTS.

Girls would wear white blouses with skirts. Kids would have one year to prepare. Each student would have basics in their wardrobe with three changes. Those who could not afford the implemented dress apparel would be supported with contributions.

Physical Exercise.
Gym--three days of physical activity and two days of nutritional classes--would be mandatory. Supervised, physical exercise and nutritional education programs would help to control youth obesity. Sports activity in schools would be expanded to include tennis, fencing, dancing, marathon racing, biking, boxing, and skating. The point would be to include a variety of physical activities for all students.

Computer labs. All students would receive a laptop or an iPad. Computer learning classes would be mandatory.

Dress code for Teachers.
Teachers would also have a uniform of professional dress, no more identification problems due to teachers dressing like students. Men would wear suits to school, and female teachers would wear suits and dresses.

Holiday. Students would attend school 11 months out of the year. July or August would be the holiday month; this extended schedule would increase learning.
Required Reading. All students would read a book a week. This would include all grade levels and would be separate assignments from schoolwork.

Arts Program. Arts would be restored to the schools. All students would take dance, art, or band.

Teacher Compensation. All teachers would receive a raise of at least 10 percent. Teachers would be held accountable, and their salaries would be reflective of graduation rates.

Foreign Exchange Student Program. All students would be exchange students. Students would be encouraged one month of the year to visit another community or another country. This would broaden their environmental scope and increase diversity.

Parental Participation. Parents would be required to participate in their child's learning process. If not, their taxes would increase.

Living Skills. Students would take home economics courses and would learn basic living skills such as cooking, sewing and making basic home repairs.

Community Outreach. The business community and senior citizens would be encouraged to assist in the learning process of Chicago's schoolchildren.

Yes, I am serious. Where would the money come from? The budget would be adjusted to accommodate the aforementioned changes deemed costly and/or taxes would be raised.

In five years, I promise the school system would change--there would be no more bad school, or good school.

With my initiatives in place, all schools would become model schools.

Wouldn't you agree?