The U. S. Department of Education is trying out extended school years. The three-year pilot project will affect about 20,000 students in 40 schools in Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Tennessee.
I was reading about the new initiative, thinking that I would make some comment about how extending the school year is only for the low performers who do not benefit from summer vacation; we already know that.
But, guess what? The Department of Education said it themselves! In a much more dramatic way.
Charles Ballinger, executive director emeritus of the National Association for Year-Round School says, "The research is very clear about that the only ones who don't lose are the upper 10 to 15 percent of the student body. Those tend to be gifted, college-bound, they're natural learners who will learn wherever they are."
So look, if kids can learn just fine over the summer, then they can learn just fine during the school year. This is what I've been saying all along, that the highest performing 15% of kids should be homeschooled. If parents have enough money to replicate self-directed, customized learning in a private school, then fine. But US schools cannot educate the top performers and everyone else in the same school system.
People like educator Jessica Smock ask what would happen if everyone took their kids out of public school? I'll tell you: a better education for lower performing kids. We could spend all those resources going to lacrosse teams and golf teams and put them toward summer school. Because lower performers benefit from summer school much more than varsity golf.
Private schools have already announced their passion for social consciousness. Which means that any kid who falls through the cracks and is a high performer in the public schools, will be able to move to a private school with free tuition. We have been doing that anyway, really, just not in a systemic way.
The problem of creating an appropriate education for all kids is too big for a disparate school system. Kids in rural communities have two-hour bus rides. Some kids are depending on school for their only meal of the day. These are clear cut problems: we do not think it's right. We just don't have capacity to solve the problem.
If you take the top 15% of performers out of the classroom, everyone will get a better education. The top 15% will learn just fine – school administrators even are saying that – and the rest of the kids will have more appropriate services and more funding for those services, because we won't pull the tax base out from under them.
Is your kid in the top 15% of US school children? It's hard to believe your answer would not be yes. I mean, you self-selected by reading a homeschooling blog that challenges all of our assumptions about school – even mine, and I'm writing it. So you're probably in the top 15% too – intelligence is genetic. So do the world a favor, and take your kid out of school.