I read an article today by Chad Aldeman called Kipp Works. It's about the studies done showing the success of charter schools managed by Kipp. I am intrigued by their customer-driven approach to education. If it works, more power to 'em.
One argument many like to make against charter schools is that they "skim" the best & brightest. I reject that argument with a counter argument: why don't the public schools end the "inclusion classes" and then compare apples to apples.
What I mean is this: put the public schools' best and brightest (and most motivated) against Kipp's best and brightest. When you really compare like groups, you'll find that both schools work. The public school children are getting a less-than-stellar education, not because the teachers aren't qualified or not giving everything they've got, but because their classes are populated with too many kids who shouldn't be there.
Some kids are academically advanced. Some are not. Split them up into different classes and let the fast learners race ahead, instead of goofing around waiting for the others to catch up.
As for the bright (or not) but unmotivated, if a kid puts his head down and sleeps in my class, it bothers me that he's wasting his education, but it doesn't perturb me as much as the bright (or not) attention junkie who not only doesn't want to be there, but wants to make sure no one else gets an education, either.
Constant disruptions make real learning impossible. No fun learning activities, because that privilege would be abused, so the whole class is "punished" with a mean teacher who spends all her time on behavior management. Lord, have mercy.
If I could remove between 3 and 6 students from every class in every school, move them to their own classroom where they can act up all they want, the rest of the students would get the stellar education for which their parents pay dearly every year at tax time.
Motivation is crucial to education. It starts at home at age zero, not in Kindergarten after 5 years of junk food and video games. If we compare the motivated kids with the motivated kids, you'd find that Kipp schools work, but so do public schools.
When the schools work, everyone wins.
How are you going to motivate your children to do their best today?