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Old 01-25-2011, 02:59 PM
BornAgainDemocrat BornAgainDemocrat is offline
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: near Chattanooga
Posts: 826
Default New Ideas on Public School Reform

This was an intelligent discussion between two attractive and obviously well-educated young journalists. Still, there was a lack of fresh thinking on the subject of public school reform. Let me briefly mention two new ideas -- new to me anyway -- that I think deserve more attention.

First, I saw a proposal -- I wish I could remember who made it -- for a new kind of central high school in our biggest cities that would be more on the model of our community colleges: very large student bodies (15,000 or more), open enrollment, self-tracking, and an a la carte curriculum that included a rich assortment of vocational as well as academic offerings. Beyond minimal standards of literacy and numeracy, students would be free to choose those courses and teachers which they found most attractive, with few if any restrictions on maximum class size. (Particularly popular classes might require t.v. monitors and multiple teachers' assistants for the grading of homework.) The idea is that if the schools were more like small cities and students (along with their parents) could choose their own courses of study, there could be a better fit between student aptitudes and opportunities without charges of discrimination.

The second idea was a proposal to put web cameras in all class rooms in order to monitor student discipline and teacher competence. As it is now it is impossible for parents or administrators to accurately assess either of these, which has led to a breakdown in institutional responsibility.

As for teachers' unions (or public employee unions in general) it has been proposed that pay and benefits should be set, not by collective bargaining, but rather on the prevailing standards that exist in private industries in the area. (In the case of big central high schools allowance might also be made for the number of students teachers educate as a measure of teacher productivity.)

These are complicated ideas, obviously, with numerous ramifications and costs as well as benefits. All I'm saying is that they deserve to be explored.

Last edited by BornAgainDemocrat; 01-25-2011 at 03:10 PM..
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