I had the awesome privilege of speaking to a great group at the League of Women Voters of Oxford Candidate Forum last week. There were a lot of people with public education experience in the room, and the question I received the most while sitting with different groups of voters was about how I would ensure the less affluent school districts were served if the State ever actually ceded complete control over public education to the local districts.
With the limited amount of time available, it was very difficult to give a complete answer to such a complex question, but one gentleman stuck around with me afterward to further discuss the topic. I shared my thoughts on exploring Self-Directed Education as an option for districts struggling with funding inequities under the current compulsory education model. Much to my surprise, he was very familiar with the concept and, as an educator himself, thought it was an intriguing idea. He did express doubts, however, about how it would work for public schools serving at-risk children who were already struggling to learn.
What most people (including my new friend) have missed is that there is already evidence that this educational model not only helps at-risk children to learn but also to thrive. The Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School in Chicago provides a blueprint of how community involvement, coupled with the philosophy of Self-Directed Education, can work for even the most challenged school district. The Alliance for Self-Directed Education provides additional examples of the intellectual, social, and emotional benefits of allowing children and adolescents to direct their own education.
With decades of evidence showing how the “let’s just spend more money and give the government more control” approach to public education has failed so many of our most vulnerable students, it is time for bold new solutions. Learn more about Self-Directed Education, and let’s start the conversation about how it may be utilized to help save failing school districts.