Fixing Public Schools

Most states are failing to pass muster with the government over student testing and may lose money unless they improve quickly.

The Education Department says 34 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have major problems with the tests that were supposed to be in place in the just-ended school year. They will get federal approval only if they correct the problems in the coming year.

President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act orders states to hold math and reading tests in the third- to eighth-grade, and once in high school. Every state did have testing in the required grades. But many states still have significant problems, such as developing exams for disabled or limited-English students, or ensuring that tests are technically sound. Read more.

If YOU were president, what is the first problem you would fix in America’s public schools?

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Check out what FOX Fans are saying:

"If I were president, school would be year round. Vacations would be one week each for in February, April, July, and December for the holidays. School would be in session from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and would include an hour and a half of mandatory physical education daily. And lastly, I would increase teachers pay." Stephen (Canton, MA)

"I wouldn't do a single thing to fix schools. The Constitution of the United States gives no authority to the federal government or the president to meddle in local schools. Any legislation to this effect is unconstitutional and should be struck down by the Court. Having federal interference only makes things worse, not better. Schools are the responsibilities of the states and local communities, period. It’s up to them to fix them." Neil (Fayetteville, NC)

"The answer to this question is a no-brainer. As the son of two public school teachers (now retired), I would change the focus of education from trying to make sure that the weakest students pass to making sure that the strongest students excel. One of the reasons that education in our country is lagging behind other countries is that we expend so much time, energy, and money on those students who are not motivated to learn on their own. We work to motivate them while ignoring those students who genuinely want to learn and do well. We end up allowing the weaker students to set our policies and procedures when we should be focusing on our best and brightest." Kevin (Cat Spring, TX)

"I would change dependent and child care deductions on federal and state income tax requirements." Dee Dee (Austin, TX)

"Is it not the parents' responsibility to ensure their children complete their homework and attend school? Are not parents financially responsible for their children and the behavior of those children? If your children do well in school, then you as a parent would be allowed to keep your dependent deductions. If you failed your children, no benefits for you. If you child fails to attend school, I would make their parents reimburse the school district for loss of income. If I were president, I would free teachers from the job of baby sitting to the career of teaching." Richard

"Pay the teachers higher salaries that are more reflective of the importance of their job (the shaping and educating of the next generation of Americans)." — Kent (Portage, MI)

"If I were president, I would get stricter guidelines regarding a teacher’s qualifications, give them higher pay, and cut class sizes in half!" — Deborah

"I would close down the teacher’s union. They don't care about our children." — Johnny

"Get the government out of the public schools and quit spending more and more money for ‘programs’ and highly paid administrators who don't have any interaction with the kids." — Margie

"If I were president, I would repeal the 'No Child Left Behind Act,' which attempts to treat all schools and children the same through ludicrous standardized testing even though the locations, economic status and familial participation are not standardized around the country." — Ted (Phoenix, AZ)

"I would put 70 percent of the money allocated for each child into an account for that child. The family would then choose a school, and spend what they want for their child. The leftover money is placed in a college tuition account. The student then must pass a universal basic test at the end of each year to continue." — Fred (Springfield, OR)

"I would make parents more accountable. Our kids attend a fundamental elementary and middle school in Florida where parents are required to review homework daily, read 20 minutes a day with their kids, attend PTA meetings, etc. You'd be surprised how many parents dump their kids at the door and figure their job is over. This program has a massive positive impact on the children. No-one said that raising kids was easy." — Craig (Tierra Verde, FL)

"A balanced curriculum is needed and discipline. Schools should always be a combination of time tested proven standards and old fashioned learning of the basics, and of new age and new technologies and ideas, but it should be a balance, not out of whack like it has been for decades. Get rid of the social engineers posing as teachers, and hire real teachers, that's the first place to start." — John

"The first thing I would do about the public education system would be to do away with the Department of Education. Then I would get a right to work law passed so that teachers can teach and not be required to join a union. I would require job reviews for teachers to be performed by panels of people who are not teachers in that particular school. If the local schools want fed money then they will need to conform to these rules. I would also push the states to have the money follow the student and create competition and therefore the motivation for schools to excel." — Kandi-Lee

"I'm a U.S. citizen and, as president, I would require children and teachers to learn Spanish! Times have changed. America needs to wake up." — Alejandro

"I would convert our schools over to the European model. European students get an education voucher and schools compete for those voucher dollars. Students will not attend poorly run schools and therefore those schools receive no funding and go out of business or they change for the better. The current system is a government paid protection program for school administrators and teachers and has little to do with education." — Robert (Corpus Christi, TX)

"As they are now, public schools are pitiful. But if I was able to fix them, I would. I would Get the federal government out education, eliminate the dept of educ. 2-I would get rid of NEA and state unions. I'd put discipline back in schools." — Walter (Alabama)

"I would require parents to be much more involved before giving them any kinds of tax incentives. Parents are so incredibly absent when it comes to their child's education. Not all, but many are treat school as a babysitter. Most parents will claim that society, video games, movies, music, etc. is to blame. Some even have the audacity to blame teachers who are underpaid and do a lot of the child rearing themselves. Parents are to blame and should be more involved in their child's education. It is absurd that I even have to say something like this, but it is sadly too true. I am teacher of thirty years. I love my job, but it's getting worse." — Jan (Shelby, NC)

"We cannot do anything in our schools until there is discipline. Our schools are a joke. We must narrow the subjects to reading, writing and math. It would be nice if they could read and write." — Stephen

"Put the idea of competitiveness into K-12 schools like colleges have so they are forced to improve. Give incentives to teachers or administrators for quantifiable results. Give bonuses and plan flexibility to those that work in the inner cities or poorer areas and track them to make sure that they are getting the resources to make a difference." — Joe (Cottondale, AL)

"If I were president, I'd push to have more competition in school choices. Use the free market system to the benefit of the students. If schools had to compete for students, they would have to offer a better education to lure those families in." — Tony (Plano, TX)

"The first thing to do would be to bust up the teachers unions, or at a bare minimum, take away their tax exempt status. Then, you could require all jurisdictions that take any federal money to give education vouchers to all students." — Frank (Overland Park, KS)

"Remove federal court jurisdiction over school discipline and administration, and halt all federal funds to local education." — Phillip (Duncanville, TX)

"I would get the federal government out of the school system. That belongs to the states and cities, not the federal government." — Dee

"I would get all the illegal aliens out of our schools, stop all the politically correct social programs, stop advancing students to the next grade unless they have earned it, give teachers back the authority to discipline unruly students, and most important of all get the government out of the education business." Buck (Oregon)

"Nothing, schools are a local and state responsibility." — Walter

"Break the union stranglehold on the public school system." — David

" If I were president, I would eliminate the Department of Education. The federal government has no business involving itself in public education. The same goes for state governments as well. Leave this job to local school boards and districts being funded by city taxes." — Dennis

"I would start by ending the education entitlement program. Tell parents that their children can not attend school because they do not comply with rules and regulations and see how fast their attitude changes." — Marc (Mineola, NY)

"If I were president, the first thing I would do would be to increase teachers' salary. It is shameful what our teachers are paid so little compared to other jobs." — Joyce (Houston, TX)

"How would I fix public schools as president? First, I'd eliminate compulsory K-12 education as a concept. Also, I'd abolish the Department of Education and get the federal government out of schooling 'business' altogether." — Alex

"I would get rid of most of the administration that eats up so much of the schools' money, yet contribute nothing." — Jim

"The one thing I would push for is smaller class sizes. So much of a child's learning happens when the parent or guardian has to teach after school what the child absorb while at school despite the information being presented in the classroom." — J.P.

"Making sure the schools teach the basics of reading, writing, and mathematics. Schools today are too caught up in trying to push these young people into high-tech areas that these youngsters are not using their brain except to know how to run computers and or programs. Make the teachers actually teach these young people the basics. They will have plenty of time to do so when they get into junior and high school." — Richard (New Bedford, MA)

"I would support a complete voucher system where a school who fails to meet minimum standards for two years in a row in can no longer receive the vouchers. Competition then takes over the school system instead of union and government bureaucracy-endorsed educational stagnation." — Nathan

"If I were president, I'd cut the administration glut. Most money increases never make it to the classroom for teacher pay or for student aids in learning. There needs to be a complete re-hiring of school administrators that are hardcore and frugal in their handling of administrative costs in order to channel the funds for the system toward the purpose of education." — Randy

"I would ensure that teachers teach with experience, not with seniority. I'd bring discipline and respect back into the classroom. Schools would go back to the basics: reading, writing and arithmetic. If you don't make the grade, you repeat it." — Shirley

"I would get rid of teacher unions and disband the Department of Education. Next, I would make sure people without children do not pay school tax. I'd also push for a law requiring citizens to graduate high school before they could vote and receive any kind of government aid." — Shannon (Louisville, KY)

"I'd bring back prayer and Bible study, give vouchers, and restore local control." — Renee (Dallas, TX)

"I would fix the discipline and respect of the students. Start with the basics, and then the educational process might be a little easier when you have control of your classroom." — C.C.

"The first step is to eliminate tenure. The NEA has a strangle hold on education. They are more interested in their liberal agenda, than education." — Jim (Holmen, WI)

"School grade levels should be based on skills-level not on age-level. Also, physical education should be aimed more at physical fitness rather than sports." — Stephen (Moorhead, MN)

"Funding should be given to parents for each child to attend the school of their choice. Good schools would crop up everywhere, and free enterprise would create the best schools." — G.S. (Rochester, NY)

"I advocate allowing states to make children who consistently fail, wards of the state and educate them in boarding schools near public universities. This would put these children on the path to a better life." — Jack (Chicago, IL)

"I would eliminate tenure. Let the teachers know that their job is contingent upon them working for results, just like in industry. When you know that you are going to be held accountable for what you do, you try hard to do it right, otherwise you will be fired." — John (Muncy, PA)

"Remove multi-cultural themed education and privatize schools." — Justin (Boulder, Colorado)

"Little will ever be done to correct public education until Congress finds the courage to place limits on public service unions." — G.T. (San Diego, CA)

"First of all it is not up the either the president or Congress to do anything about public schools. The Constitution says quite clearly that those things not enumerated therein are to be left up to the several states. That is one of those things that is not mentioned in the document. Therefore, if I were president, I would get rid of the Department of Education and return the control of the schools back to the states and communities who know best how to do it." — Jan (University Place, WA)

"I would bring prayer and Bible Study back to school." — Ron

"The problem with public schools is that they have been taken over by the federal government. Public schools should be under local control, which is that way they were when they were competent." — Wayne (Stillwater, OK)

"I would not fix the public schools as they cannot be fixed. I would, over time, close all public schools and turn education completely over to private enterprise." — Robert (Virginia)

"I would change their budget process, replace teachers in unions, and fire two-thirds middle management." — Ken (Philadelphia, PA)

"As president, the first thing I would do to help students would be to eliminate all the unnecessary, politically correct programs. This would include the programs on multi-culturalism, bullying, self-esteem, and other ‘feel-good’ programs that do not help students learn what education is supposed to teach them such as reading, math, science, and other basic academic subjects." — Edith (Lake Stevens, WA)

"Public schools need to be privatized. As time goes by, I more and more come to realize that ‘free’ public education will never work. In order to get parent’s attention, there must be an outlay of money. In addition, parents must hold their children responsible for their grades." — Margaret (Vero Beach, FL)

"The first thing I would do to fix the schools would be to make legislative provisions to protect the teachers against lawsuits. I would give the teachers the ability to properly punish bad behavior and suspend and or expel those who don't want to learn without fear of reprisal from parents who don't take responsibility for their kids." — Rhett (Lilburn, GA)

"I would not continue to pour more and more money into the education system because it will not fix the problems. The problems are rooted in the homes of the students. Generally speaking, where there is no interest on the part of the parent, there is no interest on the part of the child/student. Unfortunately, the government cannot do anything to force parents to get involved in the education of their children." — CB (Louisiana)

"If I were president, I would get back to the basics, and forget about the social programs in school." — Phyllis

"As a retired educator of 30 years, I believe that the educational system needs to be rid of the union, which protects all teachers regardless of their performance, and replace the tenure system with three-year contracts. Further, the administrations need to become more accountable for funding and reduce needless staffing. It would also be of value to eliminate the Federal government of education as No Child Left Behind has created a nightmare for teachers and discourages people from entering the teaching profession." — Priscilla (Merrill, OR)

"If I were president, I would try very hard to find a way to get parents involved in the educational process. Education begins in the home and only when parents get involved will we see any improvement. Money tossed at the process will not help until kids are sent to school with an incentive to learn and accept discipline." — Don (Ocala, FL)

"If I were president, I would establish my primary objective, which is to provide our kids with an education that would make them competitive on a global basis. In order to finance this change, eliminate the enormous amount of waste in the public school system. In the face of continuing, declining enrollments, I would consolidate the underutilized school properties and sell off the unneeded school properties to developers." — Dieter (Healdsburg, CA)

"The first thing to fix is to enforce discipline in the schools. Once the classrooms are back under control, making grades will be much easier." — Kevin (Laurel, MD)

"The first thing I would do to fix public schools is cut funding to and end all non-academic extra-curricular activities (sports, band, etc.) thus returning the purpose and emphasis of public schools to education instead of entertainment." — Shelly