Reduce the number of classes and refocus on fundamentals: Math, Science, and Language.
Modern students in America are bombarded with many class choices. It seems that we try, unsuccessfully, to turn our students into a swiss army knife of sorts, i.e. exposed to all kinds of various topics. Everything from basket weaving to ping-pong, with an equal sprinkle of math and science thrown in just so we can still call it a "school" instead of a playground.
I propose the following: Extend the time spent on Math, Science, and Language to 70-90 minutes. Get rid of classes that simply don't have a place in PRIMARY education (photography, art, music, etc). Focus our kids on the important subjects early on with a boatload of exposure to them, so by the time they enter High School they will have mastered Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry, Writing, Reading Comprehension, Critical Thinking, and Scientific Principles.
Now, let me also expand on this and say that I don't advocate cutting out music, art, etc completely. But they should not be given equal time to the fundamentals. They should be incorporated as learning tools - for example using music and sound in science class. Using art in math, performing plays in language classes, etc.
I don't know if things changed in the last 30 years, but I very much remember many of my peers choosing one class or another simply because the workload was easier or the expectation was that the class would provide ample "nap time".
This proposal would create a highly focused early education, which would provide kids with more time on the fundamentals, expose them to critical thinking as they would connect fundamentals with applications in the real world, reduce the variety of teachers and all the costs associated with that, (perhaps) reduce the school day, reduce the number of materials needed to support classes (books, presentations, technology, etc).
Any thoughts? Good/Bad idea?