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 […]

20 school reforms no. 6: Grading Schools

What does the “Elephant” say about grading schools on an A to F scale? Florida teachers, superintendents, and school board members are questioning the value of the A to F grading system. Some have called for an end to this system, but more time is needed to make the transition to new exams, standards and […]

20 School Reforms: Charter Schools

Charters are all the rage right now. Will they do the trick? It’s too early to tell, but some of them seem to be doing well. And charters and vouchers stimulate competition. Neighboring public schools seem to improve because of competition with charters and “vouchered” private schools. Other charter schools may not be doing quite […]

20 school reforms no. 4 Testing

School Achievement Testing. Most states use uniform achievement tests to measure and compare schools as well as teachers. At first blush, this seems to make sense, but what test is appropriate for every child? Indiscriminate testing of all students, regardless of whether they are headed for college preparation or career training, results in inordinate pressure […]

School Reform no. 3

Preschool programs. Preschool programs may help some students, although there are no solid data to support this. To be effective, these programs must include nutrition, healthcare, and family counseling in addition to academics. Intensive programs can produce some positive results in poor children, perhaps in the 10% range, but with no lasting effect on increased […]

School reform no. 2

Parent support. Many teachers today will tell you that school reforms are a waste of time because it’s really the parents who are responsible for their students’ poor efforts. They will give you a litany of negative experiences involving angry, recalcitrant, and aggressive parents, many of whom seem to have little interest in their children, […]

20 school reforms #1 “Turnaround”

Turnaround process. Some states mandate a turnaround process for chronically failing schools. Staff and sometimes even principals can be replaced. If the principal and teachers are unprofessional and uncaring, this might be helpful. But as pointed out in the Elephant in the Classroom, it is more likely that the failing school represents the residual “coffee […]

College kids smarter than vocational kids?

Build a hammer. When I was in high school, we were required to take a shop class. One of our assignments was to build a hammer. This required visual and kinesthetic skills, not to mention welding ability. It was frustrating work and my “completed” hammer reminded me of a sickly and impotent tomahawk. I was […]

School Reform

Why don’t we get it? Our students don’t believe what they’re doing is relevant to them or to their future lives. We need to prepare the child, based on that child’s strengths, weaknesses, and special attributes, to find employment, live the good life, support our country, and become a role model for other students. For […]

Ability needed for college

Intellectual ability of the academic IQ type is only necessary; not sufficient, to enable one to attend a legitimate college or university. In other words, it takes more than intelligence to belong in college.  Necessary but not enough. Necessary, because the university should tap the top 25% and that means students falling at an IQ […]