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The state of public education in America is a topic that attracts the attention of a diverse crowd. The impact public schools have on children is felt by more than the students, parents, and educators directly involved in a child’s education. Education serves as the foundation for every industry in America’s economy. In the past, our nation’s educational strength powered the American economy to international greatness. Today, however, educational news is overwhelmingly negative. Dropout rates, bullying, racial division, gangs, ineffective teachers, insufficient funding, and restrictive standardized tests dominate news coverage.
The focus on what is wrong with our educational system is not completely misguided. Numerous studies and interviews with business leaders have indicated that the U.S. economy is being held back by its failure to educate a generation of students to their full potential. One recent study has even linked education with our nation’s security. However, the negative aspects of public education are only part of the story. Throughout the country, educational leaders have turned their unconventional ideas into action–and succeeded.
This month, I will post a series of posts focusing on achievements in public education. There’s enough out there about the negatives. Those stories won’t be hard to find with a quick Google search. Instead, I will focus on the unique ideas from unlikely leaders that are transforming public education.
Some topics that will be covered include:
- how virtual or “online” schools are reducing costs and expanding accessibility to personalized, differentiated education,
- the unconventional methods used by David Domenici and James Forman, Jr. in their See Forever Schools to make education for kids in juvenile detention useful and worthwhile, and
- how Geoffrey Canada and Harlem Children’s Zone have successfully taken a holistic, cradle-to-college approach from a ninety-seven block area in New York to “promise neighborhoods” all throughout the country.
There will inevitably be some discussion of what’s going wrong in education today. Any discussion about education would be incomplete without it. However, each post will primarily focus on the positive, forward-looking, and assets-based thinking that has led to pockets of achievement in the unlikeliest places.