Thursday, July 02, 2009

SunTimes: "Charters not only way to fix Chicago schools"

The editorial in the July 2, 2009 Chicago SunTimes rebuts a study released by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago as an "over simplistic analysis of test data, assembled largely6 to bash traditional public schools and promote the business group's preferred solution of Charter schools."

The editorial concludes "There are lots of ways to improve failing schools. Charters are one way, but so is investing in traditional schools."

We invite the media, and the business community, to take this advise and look beyond the traditional school "box" as a distribution point where learning reaches kids, and think of non-school locations where kids might connect with business volunteers, technology and arts, in a variety of mentoring and tutoring programs funded by the private sector, faith groups, and others interested in helping all kids come to school better prepared to learn.

There are numerous articles on this site and on the Tutor/Mentor Connection and Tutor/Mentor Institute web site that provide ideas that business people might use. Thus, our reason for encouraging companies to recruit employees to become volunteers is that as they build bonds with kids these volunteers will begin to learn first hand what the challenges are that inner city kids and schools face, and some will begin to build a personal commitment to want to do more, because the kids now become "their own" kids.

If companies encourage this involvement, in programs throughout Chicago, and in other cities, they can also host communities of practice, where volunteers who tutor, mentor, serve on boards, provide technology support, and make donations, can talk to each other, share ideas, and begin to innovate new solutions that don't focus just on investing in "smaller class size, better teachers, financial incentives for teachers and a longer school year".

The longer working people stay connected to inner city kids, the more likely they will begin to innovate new ways to build learning aspirations and use business resources to help kids prepare for 21st century careers, regardless of what the traditional school establishment does to support this.

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