My Democracy Prep colleague Lindsay Malanga and I often say we should start an organization called the Coalition of Pretty Good Schools. We’d start with the following principles.

  1. Every child must have a safe, warm, disruption-free classroom as a non-negotiable, fundamental right.
  2. All children should be taught to read using phonics-based instruction.
  3. All children must master basic computational skills with automaticity before moving on to higher mathematics.
  4. Every child must be given a well-rounded education that includes science, civics, history, geography, music, the arts, and physical education.
  5. Accountability is an important safeguard of public funds, but must not drive or dominate a child’s education. Class time must not be used for standardized test preparation.

We have no end of people ready to tell you about their paradigmatic shift that will fix education overnight. There has been plenty of philosophizing about the goals, purpose, and means of education. Everyone is ready to pull out tropes about the “factory model” of education our system is built on.

The reality is that the education system too often fails at very basic delivery, period. I would love to see more folks draw a line in the sand of their minimum basic requirements, and not in an outrageous, political winky-wink where they are wrapping thier ideal in the language of the minimum. Lets have a deep discussion right now about the minimum basic requirements and lets get relentless about making that happen without the distraction of the dream. Frankly, whatever your dream is, so long as it involves kids going somewhere to learn 1, if we can’t deliver on the basics it will be dead on arrival.

  1. Of course, for a group of folks who are engaged in Dreamschooling, we cannot take for granted that schools will be places or that children will be students in any traditional sense of the word. However, I believe that if we have a frank conversation about the minimum expectations for education I suspect this will not be a particularly widely held sentiment. If our technofuturism does complete its mindmeld with the anarcho-____ movements on the left and right to lead to a dramatically different conceptualization of childhood in the developed world in my lifetime… ↩︎