Monday, July 11, 2005

Fundamental schools

I don't think there is a state with more education choice than Florida. And from Florida comes another idea that I believe most taxpayers and many parents can get behind. They're called 'fundament schools'. It's a sort of no nonsense delivery system that requires parents, students and teachers to focus on the core mission--learning.

TAMPA - The elementary school with the top student test scores in the state, located in Tarpon Springs, uses a strict approach. Parents must be involved. Students must behave.

If parents and students don't play by the rules at Tarpon Springs Fundamental School, children can be transferred out.

The school led the state this year in test scores - outpacing more than 1,600 other schools in Florida. Its performance - 100 percent of its kids made the highest scores in writing - makes many schools drool with jealousy.

Now, Hillsborough County public school educators plan to duplicate some elements of the school's unique approach this fall at three elementary schools being converted to fundamental academies.

From the St. Petersburg Times.

The problem with our current system is we have compulsory attendance laws because compulsory learning laws are impossible to enforce. However, attendance alone doesn't begin to guarantee that the child or the parent will do their part and do the work of learning. We've allowed too many excuses for not getting the work done, too often.

It's one thing for the state to provide a free public education. It's another thing for a family to waste the gift by not doing their part. I think lots of parents would welcome the opportunity to place their children in schools that really are focused on the core task and will remove students who obviously are a distraction and worse to this very important mission. Children and family that are serious about the education of their children should not have to put up with those that are not taking their responsibility seriously and inconsiderately sabotaging the education of other children.

When Bay Vista converted from a traditional neighborhood school to a fundamental campus, about 60 percent of its students chose to go elsewhere, Kizner said. The first year Bay Vista was a fundamental school, he said it went from one of the worst schools in Pinellas to one of the 10 best.

That's a powerful testimony about what can be accomplished when you allow folks who don't want to be there to leave. They stop hindering the education of those that are working and the result is that those who appreciate the opportunity for a free education and are willing to work at it are unshackled fromthe dead weight of families and students that cannot or will not cooperate. It is not right, it is not fair, to hamper any child with the baggage of another. Let's consider allowing parents the option of fundamental schools.

(Thanks to Ben.)

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