Military training can turn Strugglers Into Strivers, writes Hugh Price, the former Urban League chief turned Brookings’ fellow, in a new book. In a speech at Fordham’s Education for Upward Mobility conference in D.C., Price talked about the benefits of JROTC, public military academies and the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe corps, a residential program for dropouts that’s improved the success of participants.
(Common elements) include an emphasis on belonging, a strong focus on motivation and self-discipline, emphasis on academic preparation, close mentoring and monitoring of how youngsters are doing, accountability and consequences, demanding schedules, teamwork, valuing and believing in the young people, believing that they can succeed, structure and routine, frequent rewards and recognition, and of course, an emphasis on safe and secure environments.
Some urban districts, such as Chicago and Philadelphia, offer military academies. Others are charter schools, such as the New Orleans Military & Maritime Academy and Bataan Military Academy in Albuquerque.
Here’s a 2005 New York Times story on public military schools across the country.
MATCH Education’s Michael Goldstein sees the potential in Price’s approach, but says the zeitgeist is moving the wrong way. Charters are under fire for being too tough on students, he writes.
The darlings of the charter movement, schools like KIPP and so forth, are being (unfairly) attacked for having discipline policies deemed too strict. Any quasi-military school would probably look at KIPP as hopelessly lax, but compared to many high-poverty schools where “anything goes,” it’s certainly true that KIPP is stricter.
. . . some top charters are reallocating spending to satisfy these critics. They taking $ from extra-curriculars, school trips, books, advanced classes, art, sports, and just about any sort of item that could be perceived as discretionary — and reallocating for more full-time staff to work with a small group of kids who struggle to adhere to the rules. The same thing is happening with limited teacher time — reallocation towards time-consuming discipline procedures and therefore away from other core topics like lesson prep, helping strugglers after school, showing up for the basketball game to cheer, and so forth.
I think it’s all about choice. Some students — or their parents — will choose structure, discipline and, perhaps, military cachet. It’s not for everyone.