Monday, December 19, 2005

Voting With Their Feet

In Greeley, Colorado, many parents are dissatisfied with their local school district. They aren't taking it laying down:
A lack of confidence in Greeley-Evans District 6 is producing an exodus.

Some parents are signing up their children at birth because of waiting lists hundreds of names long at charter schools. Some schools, however, are losing students: Last year, John Evans Middle School lost 300 students who live within the school's boundaries but enrolled at other schools.

Last school year, the district's net loss was 208 students to surrounding districts, with most of the students attending the Valley Re-1 School District, Windsor Re-4 or a virtual charter school through the Adams County school district, according to the Colorado Department of Education.

Those students are only part of the story, however. Enrollment at Frontier Charter Academy and University Schools charter schools has been growing exponentially in the past few years, and the number of students

living in District 6 boundaries who are home-schooled has nearly doubled since 2000.

Some real estate agents also worry that people are choosing not to move to Greeley because of the school district's reputation.

By sending their children to other schools, parents are consciously choosing not to send their kids to a traditional public school in the Greeley-Evans district. Though their reasons vary, parents interviewed all said the same thing: It will be hard to win them back.
There is much more to read in the whole piece.

I can't say that I blame parents for having this level of concern over the curriculum that is offered by their local traditional school system. Most parents want to obtain the best education that is available for their offspring. But I would hope that instead of simply leaving the district, these same parents would come together and unite in an effort to apply pressure to the local governing board to adopt changes that would be of benefit to all the community's children.

In the case of those parents who demand "a more challenging curriculum," why not offer them the opportunity to enroll their children in such a class? Entry to such a class could be based upon objective criteria such as a lottery or competitive examination. Contracts between the school, students, and parents covering behavioral and academic expectations would be required and rigorously enforced.

Student behaviors that disrupt the learning environment would not be tolerated. Any student who cannot, (or will not) fulfill their contractual obligations regarding behavior and classroom effort would quickly be transferred into the traditional program.

Parents who do not (or will not) ensure that their children are rested, have their materials, and/or have not completed their homework to the required level of mastery would be in breach of contract and would soon find their child transferred into the traditional program.

For its part, the school would ensure that the class is staffed with a well-trained teacher with a proven record of success. Even though the teaching of such a class would most likely have a certain amount of stress that would be inherent in the assignment, I believe that in the typical public school district there would be no shortage of teachers who would apply for the job. In fact, many teachers would be eager to work with students and parents who have actually agreed in writing to be accountable for higher standards of academic effort and superior standards of behavior.

High standards and accountability for success would be the responsibility of all: students, parents, and the school.

I would be willing to wager that such a class would have no shortage of applicants, students or teachers.
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