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October 17, 2013

What Students Think Are The Most Important Issues in Education

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School reform is a hot topic in education these days, with politicians, parents and educators debating how to improve the U.S. education system to keep up with other countries. While adults have already had their say in what is hurting schools the most, students may have the clearest insight into what is hurting their own education experience.

Students from the PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs from across the country added their voices to the conversation by answering the question, “What’s the most important issue in education today?” Listen to their responses, then come up with an answer on your own.


Warm up questions
  1. Reflect on all your years of school and pick the top three experiences that were the best. What were they? Who was involved? What made it a great experience?
  2. Think about what qualities make up a good educational experience. If you had to pick just three things that determined a “good” education instead of a “bad” education experience, what would they be? Rank them in order of importance.
  3. Who do you think understands best what makes a good educational experience? It is teachers, students, parents or the principal? Select the two groups that know the most about what makes a good educational experience.
  4. What do you think helps kids succeed in school? What prevents kids from succeeding?
Discussion questions
  1. When you watched the student responses were there any answers you strongly agree or disagree with? If so, explain why.
  2. What do you think is the most important issue in education today?
  3. If you could design your own school what would it look like?
  4. Imagine you are in control of the school’s money and have an extra $100,000 this school year.  What would you spend it on?
  5. Pretend you are the principal of your school and are in charge of hiring and firing teachers.
    1. Describe your hiring process.  What would you look for in a teacher? Who would you consult before you hired them?
    2. Describe the kind of teacher you would want out of your school.  What kind of things makes a bad teacher?
  6. What do you think is the most important issue in education today? Defend your answer.
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