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April 27, 2004

Tools for Creating Alternatives

The Annenberg Institute has referenced an amazing variety of tools such as observation protocols, focus group samples and questions, surveys, questionnaires, and other techniques for use in improving schools. These same tools can be very useful for creating new schools or tuning up alternatives. It's a splendid assortment of devices for leadership, planning, staff development, community connections, student involvement, school climate and school organization.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 12:20 PM

April 25, 2004

Exciting Designs for New Schools

In a remote blue collar region of Australia, Devenport, Tasmania, a new school, Reece Community High School received the prestigious MacConnell award for the best planned, designed and technologically advanced school in the world. Education Week has an excellent story (free registration) as has Design Share, The International Forum for Innovative Schools.

A second set of examples of advanced schools is Schools as Centers of Community: A Citizens' Guide for Planning and Design, a gorgeously illustrated free book you can download from the web by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities.

A third source of good ideas is Smaller, Safer, Saner Successful Schools from the Center for School Change and can be downloaded free. This well-illustrated booklet provides a rationale for smaller schools and for sharing space with community resources.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:59 PM

April 15, 2004

Thoughtful Essay on Choices

David Kirkpatrick has written often on providing parents with the ultimate choice of where and how to education their children. He comments that the present system essentially does that for middle and upper income families but not for low income families. His periodic column provides thoughtful commentary on contemporary education. He brings a long history of different positions in the education world to his columns. Presently, he is with the U.S. Freedom Foundation. You will find him well-informed and provocative.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:29 AM

April 14, 2004

Japan Interest in Alternative Schools

Over the past 8-10 years, several people have commented on the numbers of Japanese educators and others visiting alternative schools and charter schools in the U.S. The reason given for this interest is that increasing numbers of Japanese are unhappy with the rigidity and structure of the present federal system of education. They state that students do not learn creativity, spontaneity, and positive teamwork skills in the current highly academic, competitive system. One article describes their interest in charter schools and the attempt to obtain supportive legislation.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:32 PM

April 07, 2004

Powerful Videotape

Don Glines and Minnesota State University have released a remarkable videotape about the Wilson Campus School which operated between 1968 and 1977 in Mankato, Minnesota until the Legislature closed all campus schools. The 60 minute tape includes original black-and-white footage with modern commentary by Dr. Glines and others. Wilson Campus School was described as the most innovative school in America, an accurate description that holds to the present day. Watching the tape has a stunning effect particularly in this era of high structure and narrow standards. Any schools with an interest in reform will be deeply moved and motivated by this tape. The tape is available from IALA and includes a printed copy of the commentary. Highly recommended but be warned, your pagadigms will be altered!


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:53 AM

April 04, 2004

8 Year Study: Now Available!

One of the most famous and sound studies in American Education is the 8 Year Study which led to the oft-repeated comment that the further you departed from conventional high school education the better the results. Five volumes described the study but they are almost impossible to find. Fortunately, the summary in the entire volume I, The Story of the Eight Year Study is now is available online due to the good work by the Maine Association for Middle Level Learning with the cooperation of the University of Maine.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:03 PM

164 Democratic Schools Worldwide

This list of 164 schools by the Education Revolution Resource Organization includes schools which have described themselves as democratic, or have been described as democratic by researchers. Generally, these schools involve some or all of the characteristics noted on the democratic education homepage. Many are private schools given the reluctance of governments to approve such schools in the public sector. Schools are listed by nation and by states in the U.S.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:29 PM