Thanks Mary Jo — I saw that story some time ago and while I understand the “plan” for the $133 million, I’m still disappointed with the idea that it will take “years and years” to bring it to scale. I recently drove 9,000 miles around the United States visiting established learner-centered schools. (I repeatedly sent requests to visit an AltSchool…with no response.) But in visiting the other schools, the two factors that made these schools work, regardless of how “learning” was structured, were the personal relationships between and among the adult and students, and active, rather than passive, learning.
The “human” element is a change in attitude (actually in purpose) — not something that requires huge infusions of money. And project-based learning is already found in many public schools that have managed to work around the standards and testing obsession. So if it’s not about money, and if policy makers apparently understand what makes schools effective (judging from the fact that they send their own children to progressive, private schools), why aren’t they supporting that same kind of education in public schools?
As a possible answer, I would suggest reading the “mission statements” of learner-centered schools such as Renaissance Academy of Arts and Sciences in Portland, Or., the Kino School in Tucson, AZ, or Rainbow Community School in Ashveille, North Carolina. And then read the mission statement of the U.S. Department of Education. As long as the purpose of public education remains focused on creating worker bees for the economy rather than developing the potential of individual students, all the money in the world isn’t going to make learner-centered education available to “all” children.