"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 23, 1800

Thursday, February 26, 2009

How Education Can Work

The Carolina Journal has a piece today about Brunswick's County's own charter school, the Roger Bacon Academy. Charter schools in North Carolina are public schools and funded by public money, though at a lower level than a "regular" school. They accept children by lottery and the waiting list, at least for Roger Bacon, can be long.

Not all charter schools work, but the beauty of them is that if they don't, the parents can remove their child, unlike a traditional public school. Charters provide a glimpse of what the education system could be like if the free market were allowed to operate. Some, like Roger Bacon, would be good and parents would fight to get their children enrolled. Some would be bad, and they would fail and close, rather than continue to fail students in perpetuity.

The whole article is worth a read, but here's some excerpts:

Roger Bacon Academy uses the Direct Instruction method, a systematic presentation of “rules, tools, and techniques” rather than the facilitated discovery model popular in the state’s teacher colleges.

“You can take any content, the classical trivium or something nouveau, as long as it’s nested in a behaviorally sound approach to instructional design,” Mitchell said. “Look at the end goal task, break it up into components, teach each subskill to mastery.” Military and industrial training follows this design, “but here, no, no, we take a kindergartner, immerse him in books and expect him to learn how to read.”

RBA’s philosophy is that every child can learn if properly taught. State records say it’s working. Compared to other Brunswick County elementary and middle schools, Charter Day School had 17 percent more students on or above grade level for reading, 29 percent more in math, and 23 percent more succeeding in both subjects. Many RBA students are going into Early College programs next. This occurred while receiving 30 percent less in funding than surrounding schools, Mitchell said

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