Goals for public school education in America
In January 1995, after more than a decade of uncertainty and indecision about “curriculum” at all levels of the public school system throughout America, Patchogue-Medford (Suffolk County, NY) school board member Victor Yannacone proposed a simple, straightforward, and unambiguous statement of goals for public education in America.
Mastery of American English as a language together with a broad awareness and comprehension of English and American literature must be a requirement for graduation from High School. Most of our high school juniors and seniors should be given the opportunity to take and pass AP (Advanced Placement) English Language and AP English Literature even if college is not in their immediate post-graduation plans.
Reading and Speech
Reading must be treated as a communication skill, much the same as speech. The reading program should concentrate on literature and history from the earliest grades. The history and literature of science and the humanities are the link among all the academic disciplines..
Oral expression in the English language must become a fundamental element of education from pre-school through grade 12. Reading and oral expression should be fully integrated from the earliest classroom experience.
The School Library
School libraries must become information centers. From the earliest grades, children should find their school library is the gateway to all the world‚Äôs recorded knowledge and the place to begin the search for information about anything and everything. Our schools must provide the children with access to all the electronic media information services appropriate to their needs. From their local public school library, children should be able to access the collections of all the public libraries in the Cooperative Library System. University and Depository libraries. The vast government agency libraries now making their collections available for public education should also be available through the public school library.
Mathematics and Science
Most of our students should complete the basic mathematics sequence through AP Calculus. They should also be required to complete the basic science sequence: Earth Science; Human Health, Anatomy, and Physiology; AP Biology; AP Chemistry and APC Physics, as well. Mathematics and Science should be treated as complementary and the curriculum in each sequence should be integrated to the greatest extent possible.
From the first day in school, each child must be taught to observe and perceive the world around them. First through their natural senses and then through simple instruments which extend the power and range of their senses. At the same time each child should be encouraged to develop synthetic or conceptual frameworks from their observations.
Our public school teachers must help each child develop the spirit of analytical inquiry and the concomitant obligation to synthesize the knowledge obtained from observation into a personal intellectual structure and conceptual awareness.
The elementary school science curriculum should have at its core what are now called the “earth sciences‚’ and “ecology.”
The first laboratory will be the school yard and later the local community and the environment in which it exists. From pre-school through high school graduation, our children should become aware of the effects of environmental processes upon their community and their lives. They should learn to appreciate the effects of their actions upon their community and the environment which supports it.
The general component of technology in public school education is the body of skills that all students must acquire to participate in the world of work as it exists today and may develop in later years. These fundamental skills include keyboarding (typing), word processing, use of spreadsheets, computer graphic techniques, modeling and simulation. State-of-the-art computers with appropriate software are basic tools for learning just as textbooks, pens, and pencils.
The particular component of technology in education is the specialized training that prepares a student to enter the workforce or a specialized post-secondary education program with marketable skills. Our high school graduates must be able to pursue career paths in fields that offer potential for substantial rewards in personal satisfaction and economic security.
Students in mathematics and science who are headed toward four years or more of post-secondary education before entering the workforce should take the same courses in graphic representation, modeling, and simulation and computer science as the students heading for technical occupations, specialized occupational education, or military service immediately after graduation.
Foreign language and culture must become an integral part of elementary school education in America no less than it is throughout the rest of the industrially developed world.
The basic elements and conversational modes of at least one foreign language should be mastered by most of our students in elementary school. Then the emphasis should turn to those elements of the language which will enable our students to study the history and literature of the peoples using the language today. Our students should be able to read their newspapers, listen to their radio broadcasts and appreciate their TV and films.
English as a Second Language (ESL)
American schools have a unique opportunity to enrich the Social Studies curriculum through the ethnic diversity and backgrounds of students for whom American English is a second language.
The ESL program can link our children with the rest of the world in a natural and informal context, promoting tolerance and preparing them for the world they will enter upon graduation.
Physical Education, Athletics, Health
Physical Education must become an integrated pre-K through grade 12 effort to prepare our children for a lifetime of good health through physical fitness, good nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle.
To the extent appropriate for their ages, our children should develop an understanding of the basic elements of human physiology and the effects of pharmaco¬≠active agents upon their body from the time they enter the public school system.
The physical education program in the elementary school should concentrate on developing cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and coordination. Health and nutrition education must begin with pre-school and continue through grade 9, culminating in the state-mandated “Health” examination.
Appropriate individual corrective programs should be accommodated within the overall pre-K through graduation physical education program. Every child must achieve the maximum level of fitness, flexibility, and coordination that their personal anatomy and physiology permit. The physical education faculty should prepare a physical education IEP for every student directed toward maximizing their physical fitness and reducing the long-term impact of any handicaps which the child may have to learn to live with.
The general physical education program in Junior and Senior High School should include preparation for “life” sports. Life sports will provide an incentive to maintain the level of fitness, flexibility, and coordination that was developed during school years.
The physical education program for students participating in interscholastic and intramural athletic competition should be the last formal period of the actual school day. Student athletes can then proceed directly to their practices properly prepared for more strenuous and skill dependent exercise and effort.
The graduates of our business programs require sufficient skills and basic knowledge to enter the workforce as skilled workers. The three year high school business program must reflect the state of technology in the world that the students will enter upon graduation.
The business program must also include a general survey of business for college bound students regardless of their interests. This course should demonstrate what opportunities exist in the world of business, commerce, finance, and government and promote a basic understanding of banking and commerce here in America and throughout the world. Those areas in which even the most cloistered academics will encounter the world of business and banking such as home mortgage financing, installment purchases and credit cards should be the focus of these general business studies.
Cultural Arts and the Performing Arts
Our students must develop awareness and appreciation of the visual, musical, and performing arts as elements of their “social studies.” Our students must develop understanding of the relationship between the arts and the cultures of civilizations past and present throughout the world and as they exist in the United States today.
Any student with an interest in the performing arts, and all students with any talent in the performing arts must have the opportunity to pursue their interest and develop their talent to the full extent of their potential.
Talented children must not be required to make painful choices in elementary or Junior High School between pursuing their talents and interests or taking full advantage of all their academic opportunities.
All the programs in the cultural arts and the performing arts should be coordinated with programs in Language Arts, Literature, History, Mathematics, Science, Technology, and Physical Education. Programs in the cultural arts and the performing arts can support the academic mission of our schools.
Guidance, School Psychology, Social Work
The purpose of the Guidance Department is to assure that each student has the opportunity to achieve our community goals in English, Reading and Speech, Mathematics and Science, Technology, Social Studies, Language, Physical Education, Athletics and Health, Business, the Cultural Arts and the Performing Arts.
There are circumstances in the education of our children that may require assistance of psychologists and social workers. The services of these professionals should be available to the children, parents, teachers, and school administrators at every stage of the educational process. Help should be available to students needing it consistent with the resources available to the district.
The School Board and the School District Administration must pledge to the parents and the teachers that anti-social behavior by individual students which disrupts the environment for learning in our school buildings will not be permitted.