Some Topics I’m Researching

Here are some topics that have my eye on right now:

If you have thoughts or resources to share, please do.  Please note, I don’t endorse sites.

2 thoughts on “Some Topics I’m Researching”

  1. Regarding Cyber Charter Schools: the education provided by at least one of these schools (Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School) is at least equal to the eduacation my children have received in Cheltenham schools. The difference is the ability of children to engage in learning on terms that don't exist in a traditional classroom. Many children thrive in a traditional classroom with 20-30 classmates in each class and 6-8 different teachers each day. But for those who don't, cyber schools offer a true and valuable alernative. A child may work all morning on science and all afternoon on an English paper, and the next day spend chunks of time on history and geometry. PA Leadership also offeres a on-site gifted program, where 5th through 12th graders study alongside their peers in very challening courses with teachers 2 -3 days per week. Small class size — the average is 11 students — combined with inquiry based learning and college level material for HS students — are hallmarks of this program. I wish our local schools offered true alternatives for kids who need them. As long as we don't, cyber schools are life savers for the kids who need them and are lucky enough to be enrolled.Cyber charter schools make no statement, explicitly or implicitly about the quality of the education available in Cheltenham or elsewhere. They simple do things differently, and I am grateful for the alternative.

  2. I read some of the material on the Core Standards web link you provided. For many districts, Cheltenham among them, I strongly believe we know WHAT to teach, and already exceed any external standards. That is evidenced by the large number of our graduates who find themselves very well prepared for college.What we don't do nearly so well is present the content in a way that is ACCESSIBLE to 100% of our students. That is evidenced by our graduates who struggle in college or feel unprepared for higher education, whether it is a community college or a four year university.Education reform will continue to get it wrong when we focus on the WHAT TO TEACH (standards) over the much more critical and complex HOW TO TEACH. We are guilty of doing education mostly in one way, as are most public school districts. We may have teachers differentiating for different learning styles in some lessons and classes, but if we really wanted all of our students to have ACCESS to our curriculum and content, we would offer alternative educational programs. We have five elementary schools; four of our schools are K-4 and one is a 5/6 upper elementary school. Must all four K-4 schools offers identical type programs? Imagine, for example, one school could housing a Montessori program, another a direct instruction academy, another a school using problem based learning, and another focusing on science, math and technology. A fifth building could house a school instructing primarily the traditional way we do now. All could run K-6, with the most popular being housed at the larger EP building. (These are examples of commonly recognizable programs, not an endorsement of all or any of them specifically — it would be up to the educators to select the best options available.)We could offer a similar choice of programs in grades 7-12 for secondary education, housed between Cedarbrook and CHS. Smaller learning environments offer numerous advantages over larger ones, and our students could have the best of all worlds by coming together for extracurricular activities and the arts. We have uniquely high taxes, but we are not unique enough in our educational programming. I don't mean we're not as good as our neighbors (I think we're far better already), but we're not DIFFERENT enough. Even if we got our test scores consistently high enough to rival all of Montgomery and Bucks counties, we would still be a district with high taxes. If we are to continue to justify our high taxes to our residents and those seeking to move here or elsewhere, we need to distinguish our schools and programs. We need to make our school district one of the most desirable in the region — the one a young family can count on to meet their child's needs no matter what type of school setting they desire or what may be best for him or her. We as a district may not have the control we'd like over our taxes, but we do control what we offer the children and families of our unique and wonderful community.

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