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I am currently an 11th grader at Stone Bridge High School and have always worked hard to make the most of my time as a student. After 12 years of first-hand experience with the public school system, I have seen how ineffective teaching can be, but also the potential our government and local school board has to fix it.

        There has been talk among the Federal government to cut spending towards education. As a student and as a county, this is worrisome, as the classroom is an environment that constantly needs updating, either in the form of newer textbooks or improved technology. I have personally found that my educational experience improved drastically the year that Promethean boards were installed into every room (my 4th grade year), replacing the dusty archaic chalkboards and making learning more interactive. Some of my toughest classes, such as AP Chemistry, highly benefitted from new textbooks, as scientific discoveries are constantly being made and the AP curriculum is evolving every year. Loudoun County Public Schools has always been the frontrunner for providing students with the latest and greatest access to information, and although expensive, it has always been worth the price. So it is no wonder that Federal plans to cut funding towards education is worrying, not for our county, but also for public school systems across America.

                Luckily, I have come across a solution. And although it may seem counter-intuitive, this is a spending plan that have been in effect in other countries for years and have been proven to work. The answer: we must pay teachers more. Even some of the poorest European countries, such as Poland, have a great education system thanks to their teachers being paid well. This higher pay check sets a standard, making teachers more accountable for their jobs and making teaching positions more prestigious and difficult to get in the first place. For example, Finland has the best education in the world, ranking first with the highest PISA score (a global, standardized test of a country‚Äôs educational success). In Finland, getting into a teacher-training program is as prestigious as getting into a medical school in the US. And although Finland funds heavily into teacher-training programs and salaries, this investment pays off in the long run as educational scores skyrocket from the abundance of remarkable teachers. Because of this, Finland was able to cut spending on routine inspections and strict programs similar to No Child Left Behind. Implementing reforms comparable to these other successful countries is how we will see an improvement in learning, while adhering to a smaller budget.

            All these fancy new textbooks and iPads are no good unless the teachers equipped with them know how to use them effectively to connect with students. There is absolutely nothing more torturous and mind-numbing than a class where the teacher simply does not care about the course material or the students in the room. In conclusion, the United States should make teachers a more respectable and difficult profession to pursue. Then we can ease strict regulations, cut spending, and give teachers a higher salary. It is a win-win situation for the students, staff, and the government officials picky about educational spending. Loudoun County may not be able to accomplish such an enormous task alone, but our public school system can spark such a movement into the right direction.

        I hope this letter is read by students, parents, and Loudoun County Public School staff who have a more direct form of suggesting and enforcing ideas than I do. It is up to our local community to spark a national change.

Karen Zipor

Stone Bridge High School Student

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