Privatizing isn’t the answer, rote tests are irrelevant, and competition doesn’t help win. Those are a few of the lessons Finland learned that made its schools world leaders in education. So why would we consider letting Atlanta force privatized charter schools on us?
Classrooms are festooned with college pennants. Hallway placards proclaim:
“No Excuses!” Students win prizes for attendance. They start classes
earlier and end later than their neighbors; some return to school on
Saturdays. And they get to pore over math problems one-on-one with newly
hired tutors, many of them former accountants and engineers.
If these new mores at Lee High School, long one of Houston’s most
troubled campuses, make it seem like one of those intense charter schools,
that is no accident.
In the first experiment of its kind in the country, the Houston
public schools are testing whether techniques proven successful in
high-performing urban charters can also help raise achievement in regular
public schools. Working with Roland G. Fryer, a researcher at Harvard who
studies the racial achievement gap, Houston officials last year embraced
five key tenets of such charters at nine district secondary schools;
this fall, they are expanding the program to 11 elementary schools. A
similar effort is beginning in Denver.
Charter schools were supposed to be pilot projects, so why not
adopt what works there in public schools?
However, this still seems to be all about test scores.
Maybe some public schools could look farther afield,
Continue reading →