Everyone wants to reform education. Everyone went to school, so everyone has ideas.
But Amy Frogge, a member of the Metro Nashville School Board, has a truly novel idea: Let experienced educators lead the way. Think of it. Who knows best what children need? Experienced teachers. Who knows best what’s needed to make schools run more efficiently? The people who have been working in them.
Frogge also has the audacious idea that schools would get better if we relied on time-tested research and evidence.
“While we must measure progress, our students need more than tests. They need physical activity and unstructured, supervised play. Recess time in many schools has been eliminated or greatly decreased to make way for more instructional time and test prep. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, recess is a crucial component of healthy development that offers cognitive/academic, social/emotional and physical benefits. Here, research verifies common sense: Physical activity actually improves behavior and boosts academic performance.
“All students should have access to a rich, broad curriculum. For-profit testing companies are impacting not only recess, but also school curriculum. Too often, the arts and enrichment activities are curtailed in an effort to improve standardized test scores, which provide only limited information for educators. Students need exposure to music, art and nature. New research indicates that music can even help close the achievement gap, and school gardens offer excellent opportunities for children to spend time outside while learning hands-on lessons about core subjects, healthy eating and the environment.
“As a community, we must ensure that every child comes to school ready to learn. Research confirms that poverty, not poor teachers, is at the root of sagging school performance. Indeed, the single biggest factor impacting school performance is the socioeconomic status of the student’s family. Nashville has seen a 42 percent increase in poverty in the past 10 years, and our child poverty and hunger rates remain alarmingly high throughout the U.S. Too many of our students lack basic necessities, and many suffer what experts have termed “toxic stress” caused by chronic poverty. Our efforts to address this problem must extend outside of school walls to provide “wrap-around services” that address social, emotional and physical needs of children through community partnerships and volunteers.”