Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What If Society Would Pay for Specialized Schools? #VibeEdu @VibeIsrael Tour Takeaways

Government schooling comes with strings of compliance, conformity, and dictatorship attached yet most of the elected officials determining what happens in these schools don’t send their own children to them. Even when they do, when you scratch beneath the surface you may find these are specialty schools that look very different from the rest. For example, in New York City, these are called Performance Based Assessment Schools. The students there don’t have the same requirements for the curriculum, standards, or assessments required by the rest of state. Instead they have more real-world and project based work and assessments. Montessori is a favorite school choice for many of the nation’s leaders. Waldorf schools are in favor for those who value an environment providing artistic development of pupils. The governor where I live sent his children to boarding school. Democratic schools provide another model that has become a popular choice among parents who value self-directed learning, that incorporates responsibility to community along with personalized learning for their children.

Why is it that all members of society don’t have access to these type of school that those with means select for their own children? This is the way it’s always been, but must it always be this way?

This is the question that came up in Israel nearly a quarter century ago. Citizens did not agree that if they chose to send their children to what they call a “unique” school, that this should mean no government funding is allocated to that student.  Parents mobilized for change so that funding was tied to pupils, regardless of the type of school, that their family felt was best. Today, for the most part in Israel, all schools receive per pupil funding from the government. Traditional schools are provided at no cost to families. Unique schools require families to pay a contribution of what comes to about $200 a month. Scholarships help poorer families pay the annual tuition. Students who come from truly impoverished backgrounds, have the opportunity to attend boarding schools like Mevo'ot Yam Youth Village. Immigrants and refugees have schools with substantial wrap-around services for students and their families such as the Bialik Rogozin School.
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