Education Renaissance02/17

The failure of high-stakes testing and common-core government reforms to show a statistically significant effect on classroom learning has created an urgent need to consummate an Education-Renaissance: a transitional movement wherein an autocratic, legislated, education bureaucracy – attempting to enforce a compulsory education mandate – is transformed into an autonomous, teacher-principal-parent directed and learning-empowered community school model. Below you will find the call-to-duty responsibility teachers and principals need to consummate an empowered community school.

Teachers: In an empowered community school, when the classroom door closes, the teacher is all alone. There are no principals, parents, school administrators or legislators. The teacher, then, becomes the “heart” of classroom learning, and assumes the major responsibility for creating and sustaining a telling learning environment.

To fulfill their empowered call-for-duty, the teacher must have a presence, a stately bearing, a believability – and the practical wisdom to bring about each student’s endowed “desire to learn” and compel a state of learning readiness. The teacher must give each student encouraging feedback and instill a state of student hopefulness. The teacher must make sure the educational content being studied is relevant to everyday life and devoid of superficial memorizations. A teacher must recognize teaching is a compelling virtue that conveys meaningful-unbiased knowledge and prepares civic-minded-patriotic students anxious to contribute to a united and enterprising nation. Teachers need to meet regularly and work as a team to identify at-risk students, discuss remediation strategies and make sure no student becomes disengaged, falls behind or loses hope.

Fulfilling these challenging calls-for-duty will be quite demanding. So, for each of the nation’s more than 4.7 million teachers to be able to fulfill these noble challenges, pupil-to-teacher ratios need to be 15-1 or less. Note: The ratios for private schools were reported to be 12-1 (IES, 2014). Although this initiative may seem somewhat costly, you need to recognize student learning is inversely proportional to student-to-teacher ratios and student learning is directly proportional to the reduction in the nation’s estimated $5.9 trillion spiraling cost of its prevailing economic variables. In this light, initiating a 15-to-1 or less student-teacher ratio promises to be a prudent investment in human capital!

Principals: In an empowered community school, the principal is the life force of the school. The principal’s first call-for-duty is to provide the administrative leadership to recruit, train and retain a highly motivated, caring and common-bonded team of teachers. To accomplish this end, the principal needs to make sure (1) teachers’ input is valued and they feel vested in the ownership of their community school; (2) teachers have autonomy in determining learning environments; (3) teachers are freed from irrelevant paperwork; (4) teachers have an optimal student-to-teacher ratio; (5) school enrollments have a maximum limit; (6) teachers have a teacher-aide, a student intern and a parent volunteer to facilitate classroom learning; and (7) teachers work in a school behavioral culture free of indifferent, confronting and disrespectful student attitudes.

The principal will meet weekly with the teachers. They will discuss students’ academic progressions and behavioral transgressions. They will identify and resolve merging situations causing teachers’ distress. They will establish a school cultural support system, so that engaging students will admonish and reproach prevailing negative counter-cultures attempting to propagate their respective flawed lifestyles. And they will develop a professional network wherein teachers exchange innovative teaching strategies, and all teachers are groomed to attain master teacher status and prepared to spiral the image of the teaching profession.

Finally, the principal will recruit and inspire parents to take part in special parent-student-teacher projects such as: a school newsletter, walking club events, healthy nutrition nights and student poster exhibitions and portfolio reviews. Also, the principal will establish student internships with local business entities and develop a speaking and news media public relations program to market and promote the accomplishments of the community school.

Recruiting a principal to fulfill the call-for-duty responsibilities for actuating an empowered community school will be challenging. This is especially true for the inner-city high-risk schools, appropriately labeled, “dropout facilities,” where the dropout/non-graduate rates may be over 52 percent and the truancy rates may be over 60 percent. The first step in this process is to limit the community school enrollment to 300 students. A school this size will at least offer an adventurous and courageous principal a reasonable chance to succeed. A cost-effective way to limit enrollment is to activate the school-within-a-school concept. In this model, a principal, a team of teachers and an office staff are assigned a specific group of students, allocated a designated section of an existing school building, and function autonomously. Other steps in recruiting an effective principal include: providing an advanced-leadership training program – and offering a professional advancement plan, a salary incentive plan, health care benefits and retirement security. These professional amenities will help recruit and retain a successful principal and protect your investment.

Assessment: Assessment procedures for a community school include: an appropriate student questionnaire; a timely parent questionnaire; a teacher-parent-principal review of student portfolios; a principal’s review of teachers’ professional-accomplishment portfolios; respective business entities' review of interns’ performance; school graduation and student attendance rates; and students’ acceptance to college and trade-employment rates.

In a community school, the teacher-team will take pride in bringing forth the maximum performance of each of the school’s teachers, so there will be no need for an “outstanding teacher” award, because all teachers will be rated “outstanding” and share equally in allocated merit monies. This process will enhance teacher camaraderie.

The community school is destined to succeed because of the vested interest parents have in their children’s future; because of the teachers’ empowerment to make a significant difference in the lives of their students; and because of the principal’s fulfillment in bringing an empowered community school to its highest level of perfection.


An empowered community school promises to bring about a refreshing and visionary classroom learning experience, whereby: (1) Every student graduates high school prepared to be admitted to a college-career pathway of choice or follow a vocational career pathway of choice; (2) Each student, productively, contributes to the national economy and well-being, and helps “obliterate” the nation’s estimated-annual $8.8 trillion burdening the nation’s taxpayer!


Education needs a visionary transformation

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