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Bright ideas: Our readers sound off on school improvements

GreatSchools readers share what they'd like to see improved at their schools.

By GreatSchools Staff

We asked our readers what needs improving at their children's schools, and they had plenty to say. Readers wrote in to vent about school problems from teaching quality to discipline to communication with parents and more. Here's what they had to say:

Teaching

Spelling, handwriting suffering:

"I am very upset to find out that our schools do not enforce spelling or handwriting," writes a Florida parent. "An administrator told me it is because the kids now have computers so they don't have to write [by hand], and the computers have spell check so they don't have to know how to spell properly."

Kids grading kids:

The Iowa parent of two middle school boys writes, "It seems as though children correcting other children's papers has become an epidemic in our school system. Not only does it take away from teacher lecture time, but what about the issue of privacy?!! Correcting papers is not what my children are going to school to learn. If I am not mistaken, that is what teachers are supposed to be doing!"

Social studies squeezed out:

Another parent notes, "Teachers of fourth- and fifth-graders at [our school] were told not to teach social studies because the subject is not tested. Teachers demanded at least one day per week. This means that fifth-grade students are learning American history only one day per week. This is a disgrace!"

Calculators as a crutch:

"Get calculators out of the school system. Teach the students how to do arithmetic rather than how to punch keys on a calculator," suggests another parent.

Communication

Parent conferences aren't enough:

The mom of a first-grader in Arizona writes, "My child's school could be better by having more parent-teacher interaction. It could be via e-mail, fliers home or invitations to visit the classroom. I don't like only having parent-teacher conferences twice a year to hear about my child's school experience."

Teachers, principal won't answer emails, calls:

An urban high school parent in Ohio says, "One greatly needed improvement is to stop driving parents away. This year my son's school is infected with a horrible morale problem deriving from school closures and teacher layoffs as students leave the district for charters, the suburbs or a new voucher program. Despite this, the school continues to treat parents like idiots … or dangerous criminals. Teachers refuse to use email to communicate with parents, and telephones are not answered one minute past the last bell (even when there are student activities in the building). The district has hired 'parent liaisons,' who are parents selected by school principals, allegedly to carry some kind of message to the rest of us. I don't even know if my son's school has one. I called the woman who was in that position last year, and it turned out she had been fired. I did email the principal about whether there still was one for our building — no reply."

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

06/7/2012:
"Our middle school is located in one of the most affluent areas of the. country: Westchester, NY. Our household alone pays $30,000 per year in school taxes. And yet my children are not permitted to write in the $10 dollar "workbooks" they (absurdly) issued each year. Instead, the district chooses to consume employee time making sloppy, illegible copies of papers and handing them out to the kids. This in a district In which the typical teacher is earning a over $100 thousand dollars a year and where the latest electronics -- laptops,iPads, whiteboards, Wii games - are ubiquitous. They talk a good game, but this one detail shows that - where the children's education rubber meets the school funding road, there is little effort. Better to placate real estate investors with the flash and trash of technology while protecting their job entitlement bureaucracy . "
08/1/2011:
"I live in the Bronx,New York and I want to know how many parents have their children bused to other schools instead of their "zoned" school due to overcrowding? What are you experiences. Thank you for your feedback "
11/17/2009:
"It would very iformative if parents had a site online (ex.progress report)were we can log on and retreive grades,project reports, homework assignments in and out as well as test scores."
10/2/2007:
"uniforms a terrible. kids should have a choice on weather they want to wear those uncomfortable things or not. uniforms are REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! kids should express themselves by wearing what the want. "
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