Showing posts with label education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label education. Show all posts

What are microschools? 5 questions answered

Since COVID-19, some parents in search of educational alternatives for their children have turned to microschools. Here, Barnett Berry, a research professor in education at the University of South Carolina, explains what makes microschools distinct from other schools.


Photo by  Monstera from Pexels















By Barnett Berry - September 16, 2021

This article was originally published in  The Conversation

1. What are microschools?

As their name suggests, microschools, which serve K-12 students, are very small schools that typically serve 10 to 15 students, but sometimes as many as 150. They can have very different purposes but tend to share common characteristics, such as more personalized and project-based learning. They also tend to have closer adult-child relationships in which teachers serve as facilitators of student-led learning, not just deliverers of content.

Michael Horn, a fellow and co-founder at Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, aptly noted: “Think one-room schoolhouse meets blended learning and home schooling meets private schooling.”

Microschools can be found inside public schools, such as in North Phillips School of Innovation in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. But they can also be found in the private sector as well, such as the MYSA Micro School in Washington. They can operate almost anywhere – from living rooms and storefronts to churches, libraries and offices.


It is difficult to know just how many microschools there are throughout the U.S. State rules and regulations differ considerably, and there is no one national accreditation agency for microschools.

Horn reported that QuantumCamp, founded in 2009, was a microschool established “out of a dare that one couldn’t teach quantum physics in a simple way.” Acton Academy operates more than 180 microschools in the United States and abroad.

Microschools are often associated with ed-tech and efforts to privatize public education. For example, SchoolHouse – a New York-based ed tech startup – reportedly raised $8.1 million as of 2021 to take its model nationwide.

It is difficult to know just how many microschools there are throughout the U.S. State rules and regulations differ considerably, and there is no one national accreditation agency for microschools.

2. How are they funded?

The cost of attending a privately operated microschool varies widely. It can range from $4,000 to $25,000 per academic year.

These private microschools tend to serve families who can afford them – a 2019 survey found that the majority of microschools serve few low-income students.

Some models are funded through school voucher programs. In Florida, about 1 in 3 students at the BB International School draw on the state’s private choice programs to finance their microschool education.

Microschools can have much lower overhead than public schools, which can in turn reduce the typical per-pupil expenditure. But they also cannot provide the depth of extracurricular opportunities, such as sports, drama, band and more that parents seek in a more holistic education experience for their children.

3. Are they more effective than regular schools?

There is very little, if any, substantive evidence on the effectiveness of microschools compared to regular public schools. However, most research shows little difference in student outcomes between charter, private and public schools. This suggests there might be wide variation in the quality of microschools as well.


Students and parents wanted more personalized learning that connected to their life in the community.

4. Has the pandemic played a role in their popularity?

In the wake of the pandemic, some parents – frustrated with their child’s schools’ response to online learning – have turned microschools and learning pods. For example, The New York Times reported in 2020 that the Pandemic Pods Facebook page had more than 41,000 members, suggesting interest in the concept, although the number had shrunk to 38,000 as of September 2021. Yet it is worth noting that, historically, private schools have served only about 10% of the nation’s students.

The pandemic appears to have played a role in the uptick of interest in microschools, but a 2020 poll showed that 2 in 3 parents have given their local public school an A or B grade in response to the pandemic.

5. Do microschools and public schools work together?

Microschools do work inside the public school system and can be viewed as an extension of the small schools movement.

In 2017, the North Phillips School of Innovation, mentioned earlier in this article, was established to address poor academic performance, high student absenteeism and frequent discipline problems. Students and parents wanted more personalized learning that connected to their life in the community. During the pandemic, the district used their experience with microschooling to create learning pods and has been able to more effectively personalize learning for students and their families.

In addition, during pandemic-induced school closures, the New Hampshire Department of Education developed their version of learning pods to create small multi-age groupings of students – anywhere from five to 10 students – to help up to 500 students who had been struggling with academic and social and emotional setbacks.

Finally, the microschool concept aligns with Teacher Powered Schools — intentionally small schools inside of the public education system – where teachers have more autonomy to lead as well as teach.

Perhaps the pandemic can spur new public-private partnerships that lead to more equitable and personalized learning in which microschools play an important role.




This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.
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New York City Public School Classroom's Recollections of 9/11

Chalkbeat interviewed instructors and kids 20 years later about what they remember of that day of terror.


Image by David Z from Pixabay
By Gabrielle BirknerChalkbeat - September 11, 2021
"On 9/11, they were at school. Here’s what happened inside their classrooms." was originally published by Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization covering public education.
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It was the beginning of the school day at the beginning of the school year at the beginning of the millennium. Millions of American children were in classrooms on the morning of September 11, 2001, when hijackers flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Then-President George W. Bush was in the classroom, too — reading with young Florida students until his chief of staff whispered in his ear: “America is under attack.”

Across the country that morning, there were hushed conversations among teachers and attempts to explain to students what was happening — or shield them from it. Students remember pained looks on their teachers’ faces. Some said it was the reaction of the adults around them, rather than the images of burning buildings and pulverized steel, that conveyed the life-changing nature of the attacks.

News back then moved slowly by today’s standards. The world was still largely without smartphones or social media. Teachers and students watched the news on boxy TVs strapped to rolling carts that moved between classrooms. Across the country that day, lesson plans were futile. Then, one by one, students were called out of class as parents arrived early to bring them home.

In New York City, things were even more dramatic — the day’s horrific events were playing out nearby. At P.S. 1, in Lower Manhattan, one teacher remembers another lowering the shades so kindergartners wouldn’t see the burning towers out the window. At P.S. 124, a few blocks away, another teacher watched as crowds covered in ash walked toward Brooklyn. New York City educators did their best to provide students a steady hand even as some feared for loved ones who worked in the towers, or struggled to get through to friends and family on jammed phone lines. There were harrowing evacuations, long walks home, and eerily silent subway rides.

As for the aftermath of 9/11, some teachers and students recalled with nostalgia how Americans came together, and they wondered if such shows of unity would be possible today. Others saw the attacks as having the opposite effect, citing the rise in Islamophobia, and long, costly, and polarizing wars that are only now ending.

With the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaching, Chalkbeat asked those in school on that day to share what they remember and what they think K-12 students growing up today should know about the generation-defining terror attacks.

These are their words, edited for length and clarity.

Paula McDonel was teaching a World Geography class at Collierville High School in Collierville, Tennessee, when a colleague, looking somber, entered her classroom.

She asked me where my husband, a FedEx pilot, was that morning. I said he was home. Only then did she tell me that a commercial plane had struck the World Trade Center. I asked my students if anyone had a parent that was flying on a plane that morning. Our community had many pilots and others who may have been flying. No one in my class did. We had finished our lesson, so I turned on CNN, thinking this would be part of the current events we covered in class that week. We didn’t understand how radically our day was changing.

McDonel is retired and lives in Rosharon, Texas.

Debbie Castellani, then a student-teacher at Cambridge Rindge and Latin high school in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was teaching a World History class alongside her mentor teacher.

Suddenly, another teacher burst into the room and yelled: “Oh my goodness, the World Trade Center was just bombed!” The students started to chatter, and we tried to calm them, frustrated that this teacher thought it appropriate to share this publicly in front of the students, but also concerned about this news.

Between periods, my mentor teacher and I were able to slip into a workroom where a science teacher had a television. This was all pre-smartphone. The news featured the first World Trade tower with smoke billowing from the side, and the newscasters were sharing that a plane had crashed into the building. Then, suddenly, we saw the second plane flying into the south tower.

Castellani is now a high school history teacher in Highland Park, Illinois.

Yvette Ho taught kindergarten at P.S. 1 Alfred Smith School in Lower Manhattan. On the morning of 9/11, she remembers hearing a crash, followed by sirens.

I was a new teacher at the school and was so unaware of the events that were taking place just blocks away. I kept teaching. I even brought the class to their scheduled art class. When we arrived at the art room, the class of older children was buzzing with a nervous energy, and the teacher had a look of shock on her face as she lowered the window shades. The fifth-floor room had a direct view of the towers, and the students were witnessing people jumping out of windows.

Ho is an early childhood administrator in New York City.


Most kids didn’t fully understand what was going on or the gravity of the situation, but we were worried because we had never seen our teachers this worried.


Katie Lootens, a seventh grader at Northview Middle School in Indianapolis, was on the school bus just before 9 a.m. Eastern that day.

The last girl to get on told us something “bad” had happened but didn’t know exactly what. When we got to school, half of the students were worried about the attacks, and the other half were worried about a rumor that a kid had brought a gun on the bus. Once we got to homeroom, my teacher had the news on, and we just watched.

The second plane hit during first period, French. Most kids didn’t fully understand what was going on or the gravity of the situation, but we were worried because we had never seen our teachers this worried. Later in the day, my English language arts teacher had us journal our feelings and then share. By social studies that afternoon, I remember my teacher pulling out the map and showing us where Afghanistan was. I remember my math teacher trying to teach us math, but nobody was paying attention, and eventually, he gave up and put the news back on. In band and PE, we had the option to participate in the normal day if we wanted some normalcy, or we could sit out if we wanted.

Lootens now teaches English learners in Washington, D.C.

Mike Brown, a sixth grade teacher at Berkeley Middle School in Williamsburg, Virginia, was reviewing the day’s agenda with the students in his homeroom when he heard a commotion outside his classroom.

Middle school teachers very quickly are able to decipher kids running in the hallway. This was not that. I heard an “oh my God,” at which point I walked quickly to look out into the hallway. One of my teacher teammates was approaching the room as I was opening the door. She had a startled look on her face and asked if I was watching TV. When I turned it on, we were immediately heartbroken for the people that were on the plane as well as those in the building that was just hit. But we still thought it was a tragic accident. That only lasted for a minute as the news camera focused on the burning building caught a glimpse of a second plane hitting the second tower. Immediately we knew our country was under attack, and we were sitting in the middle of a military town. A number of my students’ parents were living in the neighborhood solely because they were enlisted in the military.

Brown is the director of new school development at New Schools for Alabama. He lives in Memphis.

Eric Nordstrom was a student at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards, Colorado. When the news first broke, Nordstrom’s English teacher, Mr. Loetscher, took the class down to the cafeteria, where there were TVs with cable.

Prior to the second plane hitting, it seemed like there was confusion over what was happening. The second strike made it clear that it was an attack, which made things more terrifying and confusing, especially to a high school student.

Now, looking back, I mostly think about all of the terrible things that have emanated from that terrible day. Whether it’s the lives lost, the money squandered that we could have done actual good with, the many stupid policies that came out of the aftermath that do nothing to keep us safe, or how it caused so many people to abandon their moral compasses and embrace hate. I think about the anti-Islam hate that spiked overnight.

Nordstrom lives in Vail, Colorado.

Alex Tronolone, a junior at Curtis High School in Staten Island, was the photographer for his school’s yearbook and newspaper. After the first plane crashed into the north tower, he was called out of class to snap some pictures. As he made his way up to the roof, where the janitors were looking out at the towers, Tronolone was imagining a small passenger plane.

When I finally got to the roof, you could tell it was more than that. While I was up there, the first tower fell. At first, it looked like water was being used to put out the fires, but as the smoke spread and cleared, it became obvious that the tower fell. After that, I returned to class, incredulous. I remember looking at my watch to note the date because I knew it would be something that would be remembered.

Tronolone is an educator from Staten Island.

Rashid Johnson taught fourth grade at Bruce-Monroe Elementary School in Washington, D.C. The principal there began evacuating the school after a third plane hit the Pentagon. (A fourth hijacked plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field soon after.)

I was paralyzed, and my students were terrified and asking me if we were going to die. It felt like an alien invasion.

Johnson is a senior director of school support in New York City.


It was and still is the most devastating storyline of my life. One moment you’re in class learning, and the next, you’re thinking about death, violence, religion, war, and safety all at once.


Barbara Gottschalk was a teacher at Flynn Middle School in Michigan’s Warren Consolidated Schools district. As events unfolded that morning, school leaders told teachers to turn off their TVs and keep teaching.

The message was to continue on and not let the students know. At the end of the school day, the principal came on the intercom to announce after-school activities had been canceled. One of my students said, “I wonder why they’re canceling everything.” That’s how protected we’d managed to keep our students. Our principal wanted the students to learn about this from their family members. To this day, I admire how my principal handled this.

Gottschalk is retired and lives in North Carolina.

Gloria Turner, a teacher at Southside Middle School in Florence, South Carolina, remembers the principal coming over the loudspeaker to say that we could not watch the news on TV or the computer.

We turned on the radio instead. I spent the day calming the fears of young teenagers while trying to control my own. All these years later, the unity of our nation is what comes to mind. We had prayer services in the park, and people from all walks of life attended. This is unusual in our town. We held hands and prayed and hugged. American flags were everywhere.

Turner teaches media arts and theatre in Florence, South Carolina.

Alyson Starks was in her fifth grade math class at Mt. Juliet Elementary School in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, when the science teacher, Ms. Jeffries, rushed into the room without knocking.

Ms. Jeffries told Mrs. Hahn something behind the piece of paper as if to tell her a secret. Mrs. Hahn rolled in the TV — those big ones, strapped to a rolling cart with the VHS that never worked — and turned on the news. Later that day, I remember getting off the bus and my parents being home. They were never home when my brother and I got home from school. The TV was on, and I’ll remember my mom’s face as she turned to notice us walk in for the rest of my life.

Starks is a senior graphic designer in Nashville.

Suzanne Werner was an educator at P.S. 124, which backs up to the Manhattan Bridge. That morning she was asked to cover for a fifth grade teacher whose husband worked at the World Trade Center.

At first, there was a steady stream of sirens, then silence and a steady stream of people covered in ash walking [toward Brooklyn]. By noon most of the children had been picked up, and the teachers were sent home. I stayed with a small group and the principal till 4 or 4:30 p.m., when the last child was collected. By then, the F train was running, and I was able to get back home to Brooklyn. The train was packed and completely silent.

It was so hard to get back to teaching that fall. There were so many distractions. Chinatown was impacted in so many ways. Businesses closed. There was no phone service for many, many months. The stench of the cloud hung over the neighborhood. The number of boxes of letters and boxes of teddy bears from school kids all over the country was overwhelming.

Werner is retired and lives in New York City.

Latasha Fields-Frisco, who on 9/11 was the dean of students at Bronx School for Law, Government & Justice. Her own daughter had just started kindergarten.

It was a regular morning that ended with a bomb threat to our school. We evacuated and ensured all of our students were safe. I lived in Harlem at the time and was unable to drive home. The bridges were closed off. I walked from the Bronx to 122nd Street in Harlem. It seemed like the longest walk ever. I was happy to reach home safely to see my family and just broke down in tears.

Fields-Frisco is an assistant principal in the Bronx.

Sonia Algarin was a school counselor at Health Opportunities High School in the Bronx when the NYPD ordered an evacuation of the school. The city had shut down mass transit temporarily.

How could we dismiss students who now had to walk home during a crisis situation? When would their parents get home if they had to walk from their jobs? Was it safer to keep them at the school? Our school was across the street from a highway, the Major Deegan. The police said we needed to seek shelter at Hostos Community College three blocks away. We had to walk all 500 students through the busy streets. Some were scared there could be another bombing or another airplane crashing into Yankee Stadium 10 blocks away.

Algarin is a school counselor in the Bronx.

Sunny Asra, a fifth grader at P.S. 220 Edward Mandel School in Queens, thinks about the repercussions of 9/11 for America’s South Asian community.

[On Sept. 13], schools had a two-hour delayed opening. Still having not processed the events, it started to hit us when the kids met each other and our parents hugged one another, and we kind of did the same. In the following weeks, major hate was thrown at the South Asian community due to a lack of knowledge about religion and race. Being that I had a turban, I was even more fearful. Many innocent South Asians were killed, stabbed, and beaten.

Asra is an operations manager for the New York City Department of Education. He lives on Long Island.

Elvis Santana, a student at P.S. 66 in the Bronx, remembers listening to the radio that morning from under his desk at school. Many of his classmates wondered aloud if their parents were OK and tried to call them.

It was and still is the most devastating storyline of my life. One moment you’re in class learning, and the next, you’re thinking about death, violence, religion, war, and safety all at once. As a Bronx native, by the age of 8, you have already previewed violence and discrimination. The incident of 9/11 broadened that violence and triggered something we weren’t prepared to deal with. To anyone born after 2001, it was a testament to how America handled hatred and violence. In the end, we failed in achieving our objective, and today we see that in places like Afghanistan.

Santana is an education outreach director in the Bronx.

Dale Chu, a third grade teacher in East Palo Alto, California, heard about the terror attack from a local Spanish-language radio station on his drive to work. He had no idea of the scale of the disaster until he walked into the teachers lounge and saw the images on TV.

For the most part, we decided not to address it with our students at the time because of their age and because the feelings were all so visceral. I also vividly remember my brother in Los Angeles calling me that morning, and me stepping out of my classroom to take it. He told me that America was now at war.

9/11 is one of those rare life-defining moments. I can’t believe it’s been 20 years. The recent image of the Afghan boy falling from the U.S. Air Force jet over Kabul brought back for me — in stark relief — this picture of a falling man from the World Trade Center. Most of all, I remember how I felt in the following weeks. The sense of national pride and unity, like when George W. Bush threw out the first pitch at the World Series game in New York City. Given today’s raging culture wars and swirling currents of polarization, we could use a little bit of that now.

Chu is an education consultant in Parker, Colorado.



Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.


States Attempt to Prohibit Harmful 'Critical Race Theory' in Our Schools. Will Their Efforts Backfire?

No matter how noble our intentions are, government participation in education is destined to spark political squabbles and determine who wins and who loses.
















BY Kerry McDonald - August 29, 2021

This article was originally published by the  Foundation for Economic Education

A mom in a Boston-area online parenting group posted earlier this week that her child’s public school chemistry class was replaced one day by some older students who gave an 80-minute presentation to the class on “white power” and “white aggression.” The parent was surprised that this occurred during her child’s science period and concerned about the racialized language and content of the presentation.

This is critical race theory, or the practice of viewing all social and cultural issues through the lens of race and racial identity and casting all human relations in terms of power structures related to that identity. It is pervading both private and public school classrooms across the country, and is embraced by the Biden administration, whose recent proposed federal rule would use taxpayer funds to award millions of dollars in American history and civics education grants that prioritize critical race theory.

I have argued that critical race theory, as it is currently implemented in schools across the country, is a harmful and divisive ideology influenced by Marxism that moves us further away from Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a nation that focuses on individual character, not color. It is important to speak out against this ideology that places group identity above individualism and creates a binary conflict between “oppressor” and “oppressed” in relation to race.

There is an understandable urge to use public policy to prevent this toxic ideology from seeping into US classrooms, but it is also important to recognize the limitations of government regulation in addressing critical race theory.


The key is to limit the power of the federal government and devolve that power to the states.

State-Level Education Policy

One of the great virtues of our country is our framework of federalism that seeks to minimize the powers of the federal government to those narrowly defined by the Constitution, while giving states wide freedom to enact policy on a variety of issues. When the federal government meddles in education, it impacts all of us. We might cheer when our preferred politician or party is in power and initiates programs we embrace, but when the pendulum inevitably swings, the cheering inevitably stops.

This is why it is just as important to oppose the Biden administration’s support for teaching critical race theory in America’s schools as it was to oppose the Trump administration’s support for teaching “patriotic education” through the proposed “1776 Commission.” The key is to limit the power of the federal government and devolve that power to the states.

One state recently took on the issue of critical race theory.

The full Idaho legislature just passed a bill preventing critical race theory from being taught in the state’s public schools and universities. The bill uses neutral language that recommits to nondiscrimination and calls for public education to “respect the dignity of others, acknowledge the right of others to express differing opinions, and foster and defend intellectual honesty, freedom of inquiry and instruction, and freedom of speech and association.” This week, I joined the Idaho Freedom Foundation to talk more about this new bill, which the governor signed into law on Wednesday.

The bill may seem benign and affirming, but in its implementation it could prevent honest and important discussions about the history of American slavery and government-sponsored racism through Jim Crow laws and redlining.

It could effectively mandate that educators ignore or gloss over real examples of past and present American racism, or avoid books and resources that bring these examples to light. Indeed, one Idaho lawmaker, Rep. Heather Scott, stated in support of the Idaho bill that teaching Harper Lee’s classic book, To Kill A Mockingbird, in schools is an example of how critical race theory has been “creeping through our schools forever.”

To Kill A Mockingbird is a fictional story of actual racism in the Jim Crow-era South where a black man is falsely accused of raping a white woman. Statewide attempts to crush critical race theory in schools could go too far in responding to overly racialized classrooms by dismissing racism altogether.

State lawmakers can and should consider these issues when debating education policy, and be held accountable by their constituents. On Thursday, the Oklahoma House of Representatives also approved a ban on critical race theory in the state’s schools, and similar legislation is being discussed in several other states.


But in the absence of that ideal, statewide school choice policies allow more parents to withdraw from a mandatory school assignment for whatever reason, including their possible disagreement over curriculum and classroom ideology.

Focus on School Choice Legislation

In Idaho, some people peacefully protested the newly enacted bill, and there are likely many parents who disagree with it. If Idaho parents don’t like the state’s policy response to critical race theory in schools, they should have the opportunity to leave their assigned district school. Similarly, if my state of Massachusetts passed a bill mandating critical race theory in public schools, then parents here who disagree with that curriculum approach should also have the freedom of exit. School choice policies such as education savings accounts (ESAs), vouchers, and tax-credit scholarship programs can help more families to do this.

The trouble with government involvement in education, even at the state and local levels, is that it creates political struggles and chooses winners and losers. This is why I ultimately favor a fully privatized education system, and why I advocate for the elimination of compulsory schooling laws.

But in the absence of that ideal, statewide school choice policies allow more parents to withdraw from a mandatory school assignment for whatever reason, including their possible disagreement over curriculum and classroom ideology. These policies allow per-pupil taxpayer funding to follow the child rather than the school in the same way that food stamps follow the grocery shopper rather than the store.

Government policy, even when implemented more locally and even when we might agree with the policy, is rooted in coercion. We can minimize that coercion by reining in government and limiting the power of politicians over our lives, as well as by creating off-ramps to allow those citizens who disagree with a coercive policy to more easily opt-out.

This article was adapted from my LiberatED email newsletter. Sign up here to receive fresh, weekly content on parenting and education issues.

Kerry McDonald

Kerry McDonald is a Senior Education Fellow at FEE and author of Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom (Chicago Review Press, 2019). She is also an adjunct scholar at The Cato Institute and a regular Forbes contributor. Kerry has a B.A. in economics from Bowdoin College and an M.Ed. in education policy from Harvard University. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband and four children. You can sign up for her weekly newsletter on parenting and education here.


 

 
This article was originally published by the  Foundation for Economic Education and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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