Saturday, June 07, 2008

Mesplay on Education

Kent Mesplay for President!

MISSION: To improve our security and to reform politics.


Excellent education is vital for citizens to be active members of society,
as well as for them to realize their full potential. However, public
education has been neglected for decades, undermining its purpose and
further perpetrating race and class divides. Despite being one of the
wealthiest countries, America spends less on education than most other
industrialized countries. Republicans and Democrats frequently talk of
education reform, but while in office either do not conduct any major
reforms or create misdirected reforms.

Schools are underfunded and usually funded mostly through property taxes.
This creates a system where schools in poorer districts (where property
values are lower), while needing funding the most, are at a funding
disadvantage to schools in wealthier districts.

The No Child Left Behind Act, rather than helping schools, has done the
opposite. No Child Left Behind mandates funding cuts for fine arts
curriculum, an already neglected yet vital subject that is usually cut
first when schools face budgetary constraints. The act also overemphasizes
standardized testing as a measure of success, placing the careers of
teachers as well as the retentions and graduations of students on the line
based upon test scores.

Republican and Democratic candidates, while frequently proposing education
reform, ignore the issue of dwindling fine arts programs in school,
instead focusing on increased funding and test scores. In fact, fine arts
programs have been shown to increase test scores overall. None of the
presidential candidates from the two 'major parties' in this election
cycle have taken on the problem of the diminishing role of fine arts in
our schools.

Kent Mesplay?s Education Platform

Major Goals:

? Equalize school funding
? Incorporate arts programs and funding within schools
? Incorporate environmental education into the core curriculum at all levels
? Incorporate peace and multi-cultural education into school curriculum
? Decentralize school administration
? End high-stakes testing
? Maximum class sizes no greater than 20
? Better and safer transport to schools
? More support and funding for special needs children
? Achievable Individual Education Plans for children with special needs
? Improve early childhood services
? Free higher education

Equalize school funding: To solve the problem of unequal funding through
property taxes, schools must receive federal financing. This will help
ensure equal educational opportunities for all students. Federal funding
should also be increased for schools in poorer areas which have greater
need of aid to improve school quality and student performance.

Incorporate arts programs and funding within schools: Arts programs are
vital to our education. Fine arts study builds creativity, memory,
expression, and self-confidence. It also introduces engaging activities to
the classroom, and allow students to open their minds in ways other
subjects cannot. These skills endure well after the student is done with
their fine arts course work. Teachers can incorporate various arts
activities (music, drama, dance, creative writing) within their daily
lesson plans to provide a basic arts program of study. Implementing the
arts in after school programs also keeps students occupied and off the
streets. When the arts are included in the curriculum students are more
willing to come to school and are actually excited about learning.

Incorporate environmental education into the core curriculum at all
levels: The environmental crisis we face today is one of the most decisive
crises facing humanity in our history. In order to exercise ecological
wisdom throughout our future, students must be taught the importance of
protecting the environment and what they can do to conserve nature.
Teachers can revise their lesson plans to include learning activities that
deal with our environment and how we contribute to it. This can go as far
as simply expanding the science core curriculum in the classroom and
revising it so that it teaches ecological wisdom.

Incorporate peace and multi-cultural education into school curriculum: To
deal with school violence, policies and programs must be implemented to
create a school culture that is inclusive and supports the elimination of
prejudice, racism, bullying, violence, and ethnocentrism. Again, the arts
provide an outlet that would minimize school violence and expand
understanding of multiple cultures. If children have an alternative to
violence they will embrace the opportunities. If the arts were implemented
into the education system nationally the government would be correcting
many problems with one solution.

Decentralize school administration: Schools currently have to work through
stifling centralized bureaucracy that impose regulations upon them that do
not necessarily provide for the needs of local communities. Schools should
be allowed more freedom in their local administration, and elicit
participation from parents and teachers in the administrative process.
Central administration should then be made available when needed to aid
local schools with achieving their goals.

End High-Stakes Testing: The careers of teachers, futures of entire
schools, and increasingly the ability to get high school diplomas rely on
so-called ?standardizes? testing. Teachers have to spend time preparing
for tests rather than teaching the material. This is especially
problematic for students who are involved in learning but are not good
test takers. Education cannot be represented by multiple-choice testing.
Teachers should be placed back in charge of teaching and classroom
assessment so that this assessment is more representative of each
individual class.

Maximum class sizes no greater than 20: Smaller class sizes allow for a
more personalized and less stressful learning environment both for
teachers and students. To lessen class sizes, measures need to be taken to
reduce school overcrowding and more teachers need to be hired. This can be
done by 1) giving the schools funding in order to expand and by 2)
increasing the number of credible teachers in the school system. There
must first be better screenings to provide for more exceptional teachers
in our school systems, and then more funding to expand our schools.
Decreasing the class sizes and increasing the teacher to student ratio
will focus more on the students and help them to get the attention they
need to be more successful.

Better and safer transport to schools: We need to provide a safer way for
children to make it to and from school on a daily basis. Through this,
school attendance rates will increase, and schools can receive more
funding. This can be achieved by hiring more efficient and credible bus
drivers and providing a free service for students to use.

More support and funding for special needs children: Students with special
needs are an important part of the diverse learners in America?s
educational system. Instead of trying to push them to keep up with the
regular learning students they should be provided with their own lesson
plans modifications. These Achievable Individual Education Plans will be
the same as the other lesson plans, only with proper modifications for the
student with special needs as decided by the student?s parents, teachers,
and other paraprofessionals. Keeping the content the same as the rest of
the class will make minimal complications for the teacher who is trying to
accommodate all of the student?s different learning needs. Lastly, with
extra funding schools can also hire more efficient teacher aides to help
teachers in classrooms with diverse learners.

Improve early childhood services: If early childhood services are provided
for children they are more likely to get the extra push they need to
succeed. It gives them a heads up and prepares them for the higher level
of schooling if they start off earlier. The classroom for the younger
school-aged children will not be all about playing and taking a nap, but
it will be about learning the basic fundamentals in an interesting way
involving the arts and about getting a better start in a more proficient

Free higher education: Financing should be provided for public
universities and technical schools to make higher education available to
anyone who seeks it, rather than the privileged few. Everyone deserves the
opportunity to pursue higher education and a professional career, yet this
remains only a dream for many lower income families. Free higher education
will give us a more educated society, uplift minorities and poorer
families, and provide a better economy through professional training.

Mesplay for President!

More Debate, More Action, Less Rhetoric. Mesplay for President

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