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December 29, 2004

Live IALA Discussion

A listserv discussion of IALA issues is available and open to all who wish to participate. Currently, there is a discussion about IALA itself and its history and viability. The advantages of a listserv is that it's interactive and people can respond to each other or post any item thought to be of interest to others on the listserv. The best listserv are timely, relevant and focused. The IALA listserv is open to all. Check it out.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 08:40 AM

December 19, 2004

Doing Choice Right

The Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington issued a report, School Choice: Doing it the Right Way Makes a Difference by the National Working Commission on Choice in K-12 Education in November, 2003. Now the Center's program, Doing Choice Right, plans to address the practical steps in establishing educational alternatives and informing parents of choices according to an article in Education Week. Paul T. Hill leads this initiative.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 07:14 PM

Nonpublic School Choices Increase

The latest study (2001-2002) of nonpublic schools, Characteristics of Private Schools in the United States: Results From the 20012002 Private Universe Survey by the U.S. Dept. of Education show:

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 06:28 PM

December 11, 2004

Choices Expanding with Charter Schools

Two examples of the rapidly changing rules around charter schools illustrate an "institutional bypass" of the present system. In New York City, with 25 charter schools, the sytem plans to create 50 more chartered schools as "seeds of change" for the remainder of the district. The only mayor in the U.S. with the authority to create charter schools is Bart Peterson in Indianapolis. He has opened or has plans to serve 4,500 students in charters in the next year and is seeking more beyond that. Another report, The Rugged Frontier: A Decade of Charter Schooling in Arizona describes the conditions in Arizona which has more charter schools than any state, about 500 sites.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:57 PM

Changing High School

Because high schools have been so resistant to change, educational choices have expanded enormously. Why can't high schools change? A provocative essay, "The Blind Men and the High School" descibes six strategies to change school. Each states a strategy, problem definition and theory of action. Here is one of the stategies as an example:

Strategy: Devise new institutional forms for secondary education: "Early college" high schools, small high schools, schools-within-schools, charter schools, "KIPP" high schools, virtual high schools. Much has been said and done on this front, and the innovations take many shapes, as do the choice schemes whereby young people and their parents can access the version that works best for them.

Problem definition: The circa-1950s, one-size-fits-all, "comprehensive high school" is dysfunctional and off-putting for many, besides being an inefficient, out-moded vehicle for teaching them what they need to learn.

Theory of action: Create new options for delivering and receiving secondary education, using technology, modern organizational theory, out-sourcing and the like, then give young people choices.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:29 PM

Metaphors about Schooling

"Movements of Mind: The Matrix, Metaphors, and Re-imagining Education," an article in Teachers College Record, describes two common metaphors for schools: education as production and education as cure. Metaphors can handicap creativity but also clarify what one actually believes. This fascinating, though long article, describes several other, possibly more useful, metaphors:
-Education as growth
-Learning as participation
-Teacher as gardener
-Education as translation
Some twenty metaphors are described and an excellent bibliography is provided in this thoughtful article. It's particularly useful in thinking about educational options.


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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:05 PM

District Choices

More often these days, school districts offer a variety of choices. This might be to meet the growing competition for students from charter schools, nonpublic schools and homeschooling, all of which have eaten into district enrollments. Other reasons for offering choices include catering to student interests or ways of learning and to provide for a greater diversity of students. Choices include schools with special themes such as science, technology, health careers, arts, open education. Here are a few examples of how districts offer, in some cases, a blizzard of choices: Saint Paul Public Schools with 30 choices; Seattle Public Schools; some 27 Small Learning Communities in the Minneapolis Public Schools; Kansas City Public Schools (MO) with 30 magnet schools; About 30 choices in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 01:31 PM

Homeschooling Increasing

Evidence of increased homeschooling comes from several sources with parents expressing a greater variety of interests. About 30 percent object to conventional school environments, about 30 want a values or religious tone, about 15 percent want a different academic focus, about 7 percent want their child's particular interest served. An article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch describes these factors. Authoritive information on homeschooling can be found on the U.S. Dept. of Education. The Parent-Directed Education website has a wealth of information and links.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 01:22 PM