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May 31, 2004

Design for New Schools: CLC

The Community Learning Centers model was developed to "redesign American education." A huge database of information is available about its features and how to implement them. It includes: personal learning plans, professional learning plans, differentiated staffing, performance pay, advisor program, technology use, thematic instruction, service learning, school board operations (charter), brain compatible learning, and other topics with detailed descriptions.

This is highly useful for people planning new schools who need to think differently about education. The CLC model was developed by Designs for Learning, a St. Paul, MN consulting firm.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 04:52 PM

May 26, 2004

New Schools, The Only Route to Reform?

A new report by Curtis Johnson and Neal Peirce, System Change Goes to School:
New Opportunities for Civic Leadership to Transform K-12 Education in
American Cities
argues that in spite of major efforts and millions of dollars for reform, traditional schools are unchanged. This is because the system and the general public have built-in factors that successfully resist and probably will always prevent change in traditional schools. Instead, America needs an "open sector" in education where new schools are permitted and encouraged. Essentially, only they can create substantially different schools. This is a powerful and important report that deserves a careful reading.
Johnson and Peirce


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 03:09 PM

May 22, 2004

Alternative "free schools"

We're seeing an increase in schools that give enormous freedom to students and staff. Well-known in this category is the Sudbury Valley School in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Serving K-12 students, the school is now in the its 36th year and has at least 31 replications. One of those schools, Fairhaven, received considerable publicity in an Education Week lengthy and sympathetic article which began with this paragraph: "Imagine a school with no classrooms or desks. No textbooks or required reading. No tests. No academic standards. No benchmarks. No principal." It was also recently written up in the Christian Science Monitor.

Most of these schools are private but some are public schools and raise important questions about their effectiveness. Interestingly, that question has been answered in a number of studies showing that graduates of "free" or democratic schools (as this group is sometimes labeled) are successful in numerous professional and other fields and express happiness with their lives.

These schools and other signs of an educational revolt against rigid standards and academic testing may be the early indication of a sea change in educational philosophy similar to that of the 1960s when the modern era of educational alternatives began. A. S. Neill's book, Summerhill and a flood of books and articles from such authors as: John Holt, Herb Kohl, Jonathan Kozol, George Dennison, Paul Goodman and others became the rage among thoughtful citizens and educators. For an excellent account of that movement see Ron Miller's Free Schools, Free People: Education and Democracy After the 1960s. Stay tuned.
Picture below: Sudbury Valley School


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:23 AM

May 13, 2004

Education Activists Conference

The National Coalition of Education Activists will hold its 15th annual conference July 29-August 1, 2004 at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The NCEA describes itself as a "multiracial network of education activists working for equity and social justice in our schools." The keynote speaker is Vincent Harding. Workshop topics include: student rights, small schools, challenging No Child Left behind, social justice, and many other topics.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:55 AM

May 10, 2004

Create New Schools

Community Based Organizations (CBOs)have entered the education scene by sponsoring new charter schools. The YMCA of America, YouthBuild and the National Council of LaRaza are examples. YouthBuild received a $5.4 million Gates Foundation grant to establish 10 new schools to add to the network of 23 Youthbuild schools. How National Organizations and Their Affiliates Can Support the New Schools Strategy describes the backgound of this movement and provides details.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 12:07 PM

May 04, 2004

Virtual Schools, More Choices

The US Department of Education estimates that 50,000 students from 37 states attend virtual schools either full or part-time, a very rapidly expanding sector of school choice. Though critics worry about the lack of social contact and lack of regulation, parents are making the selection just as they do in the realm of homeschooling. The schools range from progressive to traditional and raise a host of questions about funding and other issues. A good article appeared in the Christian Science Monitor


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 12:18 PM

Radical Innovation in Education

The International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement (ICSEI) will hold its annual conference in Barcelona, January 2-5, 2005 entitled Breaking Boundaries: Radical Innovation in Education. The purpose of ICSEI is to provide a forum for researchers, policy makers, school leaders and teachers, district administrators, and professional developers to share ideas, to promote research, and to encourage practices that will enhance the quality and equity of education for all students.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:42 AM

Increasing Public School Choices

Increasing the Supply of Public Schools provides a thoughtful discussion of how charter schools can fill a niche of parental desire for choices and deal with low performing schools identified through No Child Left Behind. The article is by the Public Policy Institute a good site for contemporary issues.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:35 AM