Idealism, confidence about schools’ future seems to run short

Alan Borsuk:

What do we want in the schools our children attend? People have a lot more in common in answering that than you might think.
A warm, caring environment, one where teachers, staff, parents and especially children feel like they count.
Good teachers. Beyond all the debate about how to improve teacher quality, anyone who ever went to school knows there are people who are really good teachers and people who aren’t, because we had them both. And we want our kids to have good ones.
Small classes, or at least ones of reasonable size. The research on class size paints a somewhat mixed picture of how important it really is. A top flight teacher with a few more kids in the class is better than someone who is not very good with fewer kids. That said, show me parents who want larger classes for their kids and I’ll show you really rare parents.
Enriching programs. They come in a lot of different, very good forms, but in every case, these are programs in which children become good at reading and reasonably good at math. Students gain a grasp of science, social studies, history. They get exposure to music and art and physical education. They learn how to learn. Positive character traits and habits are built and reinforced. Students work hard but have fun, too.