Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Proposal for Real School Choice in New York State

Instead of "Common Core" How about "Uncommon Children Deserve More'- A Proposal for Real School Choice

Driving back from Eastern Long Island this afternoon , I  had a vision of an educational revolution in New York State  that would replace the insane barrage of tests, teacher evaluations and cooker cutter curricular idea dictated by the infamous "Common Core Standards,  which are producing rage, frustration, and disbelief among parents, students, teachers and principals.

It's really a simple vision, but it's based on the option that testing, teacher assessment and adherence to the Common Core Standards should be optional, for those parents, students and school districts that want these policies rather than mandated for everyone in the state. Our children display marvelous diversity in background, aptitudes, talents, and dreams- why should they be forced to conform to a cookie cutter vision of what they should learn backed up by information gathering techniques worthy of a Totalitarian Society.

So, what I think we need is real CHOICE within regular public schools instead of having all innovation take place in Charters and private schools controlled by private interests  I would like the following to be made available as school options for local districts or even groups of parents and teachers to create

1.  A Vast Expansion of the State's Portfolio Schools. There are a small number of schools, probably less than a hundred in New York State, granted exemptions from State mandated testing, and teacher evaluations. I propose the the number of these allowed in the state be immediately increased TENFOLD!!!  I have spoke at and visited and hosted students from a great portfolio high school in Manhattan, Urban Academy and was tremendously impressed with what they are able to do. I would guaranteed there are tens if hot hundreds of thousands of parents in the state who would like their children in schools like this.  Give them that opportunity. Immediately!!!

2. Let's bring back the vocational and technical high schools with exemption from high stakes tests. When I was growing up in the 50's, there were great vocational high schools in New York City that taught automotive repair, airline maintenance, electronics, construction skills,  cosmetology and secretarial skills. They were systematically dismantled and forced to conform to a test driven curriculum.  Let's recreate them and add new skills in information systems, environmental technology,  health and fitness training, and, yes agriculture!!!  Farming is back, both urban and rural, and we could definitely benefit from schools which teach it.  Let's create  500 vocational and technical high schools throughout New York state in the next ten years!!  I bet they would all be filled up with eager applicants

  Just think of the joy and excitement creating portfolio and technical high schools would create. Just think of how many people would want to teach in them.

  And if it could happen in New York, it could happen anywhere

  What do you think folks. Is this a viable vision?

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