Hearts & MindsSM - Information for ChangeSM

Upgrading Education
A letter you can send

Dear [name of elected representative]:

There are big gaps in academic achievement by minority students in the USA. Most minority students attend substandard schools in poor, urban areas. These schools have little access to updated textbooks, libraries and computers, or educational materials like microscopes, calculators and art supplies. These students often come from  low-income, single-parent families that lack the time or money for their childrens health or education. To help their families, students often work minimum-wage jobs that leave them exhausted, unable to perform well in class or on standardized tests.

The challenges posed by failing, under-funded schools leave teachers as apathetic and discouraged as their students. Salaries are low. This drives many teachers to quit their profession or move to schools with better salaries, comfort, security and resources. Not surprisingly, such schools are usually in suburbs with a lower crime rate, sufficient government funding, and fewer minorities.

William Mathis, Professor of Educational Finance at the University of Vermont, finds that it would cost much more than the $12  billion the Bush Administration allotted for school funding to help failing schools reach their states' academic standards. In fact, Mathis says, a figure of $85 - $148 billion dollars each year is called for.

We urge you to support:

  • Additional funding to provide high quality education for all students, with targeted help for schools that need it most.
  • Quality control to make sure schools use their funds wisely.
  • Incentives for schools and teachers to make measurable improvements in the quality of education, not only on standardized tests.
  • A national plan to identify problems and outline strategies for academic achievement. We need to address financial, management and teaching methods. We also need to set specific academic goals.
  • Funding for teams of experts, curriculum specialists and master teachers to visit or work at failing schools.
  • Tutoring services, extra instruction and special programs for students in need.

Quality education for all children is a top priority. With your help, we can provide schools with the materials and faculty they need to help students become confident, informed and productive members of our communities.

Please let me know what you are doing to fully implement all the above policies as quickly as possible.

Sincerely,

[your name]

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