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Expanding Options for Education

I am a retired educator with experience ranging from pre-k handicapped to pre-service teachers at a small university. Although retired, I continue to care about children and teens. We seem to be a nation with enormous grief. We grieve when reminded of school dropouts or when we read that more than half of our Black males will not earn high school diplomas. We anguish because we know that every student who drops out of school or who ends up in prison signifies a personal loss as well as a loss to society. Instead of additional hand wringing, perhaps we need to consider alternatives that could contribute new ideas. Please consider ideas listen below.

When we attempt to make all students fit the same mold, problems rip through the system and some kids cease to care. Even within one school, alternative programs could provide many options. If we truly want students to live healthy lives and make contributions to society, we will enlarge the model and expand choices.

  1. “Teaching Culturally-Disadvantaged and Underprivileged Students” by Marsha Cope claims that low-income students typically get a preponderance of “drill and kill” lessons and assignments that require rote memory. Schools emphasize grammar and basic skills. Who wouldn’t be turned off?

  2. The “Hamilton Project: Organizing Schools to Improve Student Achievement “ by Jacob and Rockoff states that because teenagers experience different circadian rhythms, allowing them to start classes later in the morning would help middle and senior high schools. Any problems encountered would pale when compared to the challenge of teaching students who cannot wake up until mid or late morning.

  3. “Stuck in the Middle” by Jonah Rockoff and Benjamin Lockwood presents an argument for keeping students in K – 8 schools in order to prevent academic losses. The authors claim that test scores of students in middle schools drop more than scores of students in K – 8 schools.

  4. Dr. Susan Loughran, a theater professor at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas suggested teaching curriculum through drama. She recommended challenging students to write scripts, design costumes and props, and present plays. Selling tickets would require dealing with profits and losses. All of the major educational skills could be addressed through dramatization.

  5. In Gibson, North Carolina, nine students on probation became engaged in a pilot program called “Growing Change.” Teenagers gave the food they grew to families in need. In the process, the young people learned about sustainable agriculture and aquaponics.


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