We asked readers “If the state put you in charge of San Diego Unified School District, how would you fix things?”

It is time to eliminate “No Child Left Behind” and move to designing a system where every child is not only introduced to a myriad of concepts and ideas, but where they can learn to pursue and think for themselves critically.

I am greatly concerned that training kids in a system that is a century old will lead our nation into a second-rate country. San Diego could lead the nation in conceptually changing the way kids assimilate knowledge, communicate, and pursue interests to advance math science, music, and other skills.

Increasing the number of children who are shoved into one class, for one teacher to babysit and challenge, and expect an improved outcome is splendidly stupid.

The San Diego School District must pursue a goal that includes challenging children, families, the district and the companies within the district to create a reinvigorated school system where brains are turned on earlier, challenged more broadly, with the goal to develop citizens with multi-lingual capacities while making them able to compete globally with other nations in the area of creativity, music, science, math, medicine and technology.

The current system is failing America, San Diego, and area businesses. We are losing our competitive advantages while politics work to destroy the very public education system that makes the United States a democracy and made it great in the last century.

Class size must diminish. Rather than testing, we should be teaching children to learn.

Rather than eliminating music and home economics, we should be investing in the imagination of children. Instead, we are focused on them passing tests, rather than how to achieve brilliance.

Neighborhoods must share resources. Businesses should invest directly into the school district, not just by paying their property taxes, but by providing leadership, technological investment, school investment, and access to additional resources.

It is time to end the favoritism of wealthy schools and poor schools. Focus schools, where specific skills are honed and harnessed are materially important to develop the skills and talents of our children.

A redesign of charter school costs must change. If public schools are to survive, they must identify what is working in charter schools, while meeting the demands of state and federal guidelines. In addition, politicians must require charter schools to share in the integration costs of more troubled youth and those with less than perfect learning abilities.

Charter schools are destroying the ability of public schools to provide excellent educations by taking targeted children whose costs are substantially less, leaving the costs of higher needs children in the public system while politicians shift those dollars away from public schools.

It is not necessary to raise ever increasing revenues. But learning sites are outdated, technologically dated, and teaching curriculums change faster than the very teachers who are responsible for implementing those changes. It is necessary to redesign the learning structures of our public systems by implementing the many key successes of Norway and Korea, the top two national school systems.

In Norway, teachers are paid what doctors are paid while their skills are annually reviewed and competitively analyzed on how they engage their students. Unions must find a way to address this review process if our district is ready to compensate the best teachers at the level of doctors and other resource developers in America.

I hope San Diego will face the task and lead America to a new way of teaching our youth. If San Diego can, we can compete globally while making life better for San Diego.

Eric Brown lives in Mission Valley.

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Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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