Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A School Choice Quiz

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 at 12:17 PM

The big-picture discussion of the school systems merger has become tiresome and complicated and somewhat removed from real-world decision making. So let's have a little pop quiz. These questions are purely hypothetical, of course.

The principal of an elementary school has instituted a no-talking policy during lunch. No more controlled chaos. But some parents say their kids are going bonkers and the policy is an overreaction. Your call?

A formerly downtrodden inner-city high school gets a new building, but needs an enrollment boost. It hires a charismatic football coach who lets it be known that the team is going to be good, and pretty soon athletes from nearby schools start changing teams. Good thing?

An elementary school makes the highest test scores in the system year after year. The catch is, the school is an optional school, and there is a cut score to get in and stay in. The neighborhood and school building are unremarkable, but the academics are top of the class. Should this model be replicated?

The standout school is all black. Is that a problem?

If the school was mostly white would it be a problem?

A public elementary school in a racially diverse neighborhood populated by young couples and professionals is experiencing a modest surge in white enrollment. But the parents want their kids to be in the same class. It is white flight in reverse, on a very small scale. They all stay or they all go. OK with that?

An optional public school has some accelerated classes and some traditional classes. The only time the kids mix is in homeroom and in the corridors and at ballgames. There is a limited number of slots in the accelerated classes. How should they be allotted?

A well-known former educator and politician wants to start some charter schools. Charter schools are popular and are drawing lots of funding. The applicant is capable but highly controversial. Should the applications be approved?

A high school attracts a disproportionate number of National Merit Scholars, who become magnets for other academically motivated students. But classes are jammed, and the school is overcrowded. What should be done?

A highly motivated principal is determined to raise the test scores at her school. She lets it be known that on test day teachers should encourage some low achievers to stay home. And teachers are instructed to teach to the test, and shown how they can do this. In fact, they are required to do this. Would you send your kid there?

A large group of public school parents believe that the joint school board will not represent their interests. They don't want to pay more than they are now paying for education. So they propose a coalition of charter schools with a separate board. Good idea?

You have ten minutes to complete the quiz. No cheating.

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