Wyoming Liberty Group
An Educational Tsunami
While Japan reeled from the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the American educational establishment got a shakeup of its own. The following quote came, most surprisingly, came from the Douglas County (Colorado) School District (DCSD) Strategic Plan approved unanimously on March 15, 2011.
“We no longer need compliant graduates who have memorized a set of facts, who believe every answer is found in a book, or who have perfected the game of school – to memorize, regurgitate and dump. Instead, our country and our business partners demand graduates who are globally aware, financially literate, creative, adaptable and resilient, collaborative, ethical, problem solvers, critical thinkers, and communicators to accommodate the careers in this new day. These graduates will be the most qualified and highly sought after in the world. They will secure the highest paying jobs and stimulate growth and development in the communities they populate.”
These words could have come from any home schooler or almost any astute parent. They could have come from fierce critics of the current system like John Taylor Gatto. They might have come from a top-notch private school. Anyone familiar with Mark Twain’s aphorism, “God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board,” would be taken back by this statement from a school board.
But there is more to come. The Douglas County strategic plan not only includes increased support for home schoolers; it includes unprecedented support for school choice in that it includes a plan to provide scholarships to send district students to non-government schools in and near the district. Advocates for the program believe that this is the first school-board level school choice program in the country to include non-government schools.
The Douglas plan starts in the fall of 2011 with a 500 student pilot program. Students must have been enrolled in the district for at least a year, so no kindergartners or recent arrivals will be eligible. Students must be district residents. Unlike many educational programs, this one is not means tested. It has no special needs or other restrictive requirements; almost any student in the district is eligible for the program.
Both religious and non-religious schools are eligible. Seventy-five per cent of the funding (about $4500 next year for each student) will accompany the student to the school of his choice. Twenty-five per cent of the funding will go to the district to “administer” the program, so it is a money maker for the district.
The Douglas County district has tossed out the usual “Not Invented Here” stance that so many school districts (and other organizations) exhibit.