Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Modest Proposal - Or Not

How about this to truly reform education: make it optional after 8th grade.
Kids who require licenses to work (doctors, teachers, lawyers) continue through high school and go to college. More on that below. Let's start with the kids who do not need a license.

Kids who do not stay in school start apprenticeships in their field after 8th grade. If they don't have a clue as to what they'd like to do, they rotate through several different 6-month placements of their choosing. Some of these may require additional training or "homework," so all of the teachers who are no longer working can become tutor/mentors.

Schools become community centers where people can come to learn, both adults and kids. Schools offer classes based on the needs of their immediate community (a truly neighborhood school), but people can take classes at any location.

Eliminate mandatory school taxes except for those students who continue through high school. The nighborhood schools are funded by state dollars (partially, with no strings) and the community (which pays an annual membership to use the school, something modest that can be worked off by teaching a class or offering other services to the school, like janitorial or administrative services).

Should a student decide after "dropping out" in 8th grade that they would like to continue on a degree track, they can opt back in after demonstrating their commitment and the commitment of the parents to the "re-schooling."

High school itself will be reformed to include design, hands-on application and portfolios. There will be no mandatory standardized testing, and schedules will be flexible to allow for student work schedules and transportation (students provide their own transportation). Graduation will be based not on grades and GPA but on demonstrated understanding of vital concepts for whichever licensed field the student has chosen, with representatives from selected colleges on hand for final evaluations throughout the senior year, making recommendations for work that needs to be completed prior to graduation. Each student will be paired with a mentor and will stay with that mentor for all four years.

Let's make some real change. Let's educate all people where they are and completely eliminate the still-prevalent one-sze-fits-all mentality. Let's stop with the wrangling about money, length/amount of school days and curriculum reform. If we can't teach the entire population of this country vital social norms as well as basic skills like reading, math and writing in nine years of school, then we have other fish to fry; assuming we can, let's re-think mandatory schooling and step into the real world.

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