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20 Reforms: No. 16: Drop Liberal Arts?

Excerpted from The Elephant in the Classroom (How our fear of the truth hurts kids and how every student can succeed). Since there will always be limited funding for state universities, especially during a recession, the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, seems to be on a path that would force cuts to liberal arts courses […]

20 reforms: No. 15: Military Schools

Military schools. These schools have been around for a long time. I attended one in Tulsa, Oklahoma for two years. They offer structure and close personal attention. But again, these have been selective private schools. Now some public-private charter schools are choosing to follow the military model in order to get more kids into college. […]

20 reforms, no. 14: Scholarship Programs

Scholarship programs. A current example of monetary infusion is the Kalamazoo Promise. The Kalamazoo, Michigan program took a blind stance to family income levels, pupils’ grades, and even to disciplinary and criminal records, thus becoming the most inclusive and generous scholarship program in America. Tuition and room and board to Michigan’s public colleges, universities, and […]

Reform no. 13: Is money the answer?

Money. Money (lots of money)! Another approach is simply the massive infusion of money into the elementary and secondary educational system. In 1985 a Missouri judge ordered the state to spend $2 billion over 12 years and per student funding increased to $25,000 per student. But the CATO Institute documented this effort, and a decade […]

20 school reforms: no 12: tutoring

Tutoring. The Elephant in the Classroom believes tutoring promises help for students who are falling behind or who need individualized assistance. In Pinellas County, Florida, the school system is hiring college students at $20 an hour to tutor. The college students must have at least a 2.5 grade point average. Bill Maxwell, “A Debate on […]

20 school reforms: no. 11: push up grad rates

Graduation rates have become a government obsession. Get those graduation rates up and we’ll solve all our problems. Right? Maybe not. In fact, a sharp increase in graduation rates is a symptom of our obsession with “pure” academics. This year, the high school graduation rate has topped 80% for the first time in U.S. history. […]

School reform no. 10: Virtual Schools?

Based upon her teaching experience, Joyce Hicks, Associate Professor in the economics department at St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, believes virtual classes are valid for searching and information gathering, but not as a stand-alone program. Students must be well-organized self-starters, and even then may have difficulties. She sees some positives, but believes it is […]

20 reforms: no. 9: 6 year high schools

Six-year high schools. This model, which was rolled out in New York City and Chicago, requires six years of high school. Students graduate with not only a high school diploma, but also a college associate’s degree. Some politicians, undoubtedly well-meaning, want to take that idea national. Rana Foroohar, “Time to Talk about the I Word,” […]

20 Reforms, no. 8: Boys will be boys?

Gender – specific schools. Neuropsychological studies continue to show significant brain differences between genders. Male brains utilize seven times more gray matter while female brains utilize ten times more white matter. Boys tend to over focus and are less sensitive to other people or their surroundings, while girls transition more quickly between tasks than boys […]

20 school reforms: no. 7 “Miracle Schools”

Miracle schools. This push for higher achievement has led to accounts of miracle schools, but Diane Ravitch, former United States Assistant Secretary of Education, did some detective work that undermined these claims. One government official hailed the Bruce Randolph School in Denver, where the first senior class had a graduation rate of 97%. Wow! What […]