Sunday, November 15, 2009

Something you won't see in the Globe...

It turns out that when you get layers of bureaucrats out of the way, and you get out from underneath the privatizers and sloganeers in the Governor's Office, you can get some good education done. Though still a work in progress, a Boston school actually run by teachers is proving to be successful, according to one skeptical parent.

As a pilot school, the BTU school is still part of Boston Public Schools, but it has more freedom when it comes to curriculum and budget matters. Among the biggest differences between the Union school (as I saw it referred to in school literature) and standard BPS schools:

  • Instead of principals, they have co-lead teachers. These teachers will probably teach about one period a day and spent the rest of their time on administrative tasks.
  • All students have Spanish three times a week.
  • Students also have music every day.
  • Science and social studies are integrated into the curriculum, rather than having special teachers assigned to those subjects. History lessons start at the K1 level. I feel like social studies and science often get left behind in this age of testing.
  • Although school had only been in session for nine weeks, there were many student projects hanging in the hallways.
  • Several classes have already been on field trips to the arboretum and Spectacle Island.

I'll admit to concern over the new practice of having teachers moonlight in science or social studies, as if those subjects require less specialized knowledge and training than math, ELA, or music. I've witnessed this in action a few times, and it never works out well for the students.

Pilot schools are the way to go...frankly, one thing our public education system needs is more diversity, moving away from the academic pipeline model...many more pilots, vocational, aggie, and especially magnet schools. This is a good first step.

Of course, you'll never see anything positive about teachers or public education in the Globe, which came out powerfully in favor of two unfunded mandates from schools. If these mandates pass and schools prove unable to do more with less, I'm sure the Globe will reiterate how evil all unions are.

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