“Good” Schools Need More Than Just Great Teachers

Kids and a teacher

We can all agree that our military-connected children—all children really—need and deserve to attend good schools and receive the best possible education. But one question that isn’t often asked is what exactly is it that makes a school “good”?

A recent report by the Lexington Institute analyzed standardized test results in four states that serve a large number of military-connected children. The study suggested that those scores should be used to help measure the quality of education that each school provides. But are test scores the only way to measure the quality of an education? What else should parents look for in a school?

Over the course of six years, my own two military kids attended five different elementary schools. Some of those schools had standardized test scores through the roof. Others had lower scores – often because they were serving a more diverse student population. But we found that even at the schools with lower test scores, our kids could still thrive academically as long as there were resources in place to help them learn. Most important, of course, were caring teachers and a supportive environment – but schools need more than that to really help our kids succeed. Every military child should be in a school with:

  • Adequate facilities. Kids need a healthy environment in order to focus and learn. Overcrowded classrooms and run down or poorly maintained buildings make it harder for them to succeed.
  • Ample books and supplies. Schools need well-stocked libraries and up to date textbooks.
  • Enrichment opportunities. Art and music are an essential part of a well-rounded education. Field trips to theaters and museums help broaden kids’ horizons.
  • Support for special needs. Schools need resources to help every child learn and develop to the best of their ability.

The reality is, providing kids with a quality education costs money.

The vast majority of military kids attend local public schools, and that isn’t going to change. So the best way to ensure that military kids receive a high quality education is to adequately fund public schools. Conversely, any plan that directs money away from public schools makes it harder for them to provide a good education to the military kids they serve.

Most school funding comes from local communities. But the federal government has a role to play as well, especially when it comes to our military kids. Military families can’t always choose where they are stationed. They need to know that their kids can receive a quality education anywhere they happen to be. The best way to do that is to make sure schools serving military communities have the resources they need to help kids succeed.

Posted February 6, 2017

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