Seattle blogger Stefan Sharkansky
is more into the current debate on Charter Schools than I am but this caught my eye. This is from the Braden Files
and talks about a Charter School
in Marlborough, MA that is not built on the traditional model.
bq. The Soviets ordered them to leave most everything behind. When Julia Sigalovsky fled the Soviet Union in 1989 she took only her husband, their son, Linda the collie, six suitcases, $400, and a titanium-strength foundation in math and physics. The latter proved to be her most valuable asset as she navigated refugee camps and multiple career changes to establish herself in Massachusetts.
bq. Moscow School No. 2, she realized, gave her the tools to become a geochemist, then an MIT ceramics process researcher, then the founder of her own environmental engineering firm. Two years ago, while trying to find a rigorous kindergarten for her second son, she thought: What if she created a school where children received the training she did? What if they studied a subject not just for one year, but for five or six?
The Braden Files link to an article in Boston.Com
that details some of the protests and support that this school has received.
bq. Many critics are put off by the rigor of the academy's curriculum, saying it would not truly be a public school because many children, including those with special education needs, could never keep up. The charter school would skim the cream, Boniface said, leaving the underperformers. "If you drain the top kids, your ability to be at or above the state average is diminished," she said.
bq. Sigalovsky's concept is founded on some basic principals: that children should, and can, grasp theoretical knowledge before learning examples. That schools should teach physics, chemistry, algebra, geometry, and biology not just once in four years, but every year. That history should not be divided by country, but should survey the modern world. That literature should parallel the history courses and should focus on periods and movements instead of countries. That geography is not tangential, but an integral part of understanding world history.
Maybe there should be schools for exceptional children. The idea of sticking with one subject for more than one or two terms is wonderful - instead of dealing with a whole bunch of "dash-studies", deal with the basics and really get a good grounding. This is not
for everyone, not all smart people will benefit from this style of pedagogy and by no means should this become the model for every school, but
there are people who will flourish in this environment and they should not be denied...
As for Seattle (and Washington State) Charter Schools, WA is one of ten states that do not allow them. There are issues pro and con - plus, there is the issue of where are the parents - kids should not spend 4PM to 10PM in front of the GameBoy or TV, schooling demands input from the parents as well.