Learning Co-Operatives and Corner Schools
In the comments, E.C. Gach imagines a charter school I’d certainly get behind:
So what if in a small community, of so many square blocks, families sent their kids to a day care instead of a school. Those parents who were available would work with a group of teachers on a given day to home-school a large group of neighborhood kids at the same time. Maye this is grades 1-8. At the end of grades 1-8, the students get tested, and prepare to enter "the system" going on either to a mass public school, a private one, or a privately run public one (charter). I’m imagining a small building, capable of holding maybe only 60-75 kids max. The parents and teachers work with them where ever they are at, focusing on reading, math, creative projects, etc. By the time they actually have to enter the system, I’d be surprised if they were any worse off then the average of their peers. With such a low expectation bar, even minimal education would be par for the course (though I think it would be better).
And the key is, the system is run sort of like a co-op, managed by teachers and parents democratically, though no such fancy political title need be applied. Parents who didn’t want to send their kids wouldn’t have to. Kids who were a problem would be allowed to continue attendance at the discretion of other neighborhood parents. The environment would be safe and offer a real sense of community, all the while offering parents and teachers involved the greatest latitude in how they decide to run things.
Sounds pretty wishful to me. I’m sure anyone who just read that had trouble making it from sentence to sentence without thinking of the millions of reasons why such an idea would be non-practical if not wholly unrealistic.
I actually really love the idea of co-ops. Co-operative grocery stores, pre-schools, artist groups – whatever. Someday I’d like to start a music co-operative, put together a really nice recording studio, do it all from the ground up. However valuable competition is, cooperation in our endeavors is equally vital. So the idea of a parent’s teaching co-operative really appeals to me. I know there are pre-schools like this, but I’m not sure if there are many school-schools doing it – these days there are so many options it’s quite possible. I’ve written about corner schools before as well (somewhere Wayback) and the advantages of really small schools close to homes and interwoven into the surrounding community, blurring the arbitrary age line a bit. This might not be for everyone, but I think introducing these options for people who really want to be involved with their children’s educations and the community makes a ton of sense. Others will opt for bigger more traditional learning environments where their children are more likely to be football stars and such.
I posted this a while back, but it’s worth a second viewing: