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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Reinvent high school, but how?


Photo: Jeswin Thomas/Pexels

Fordham's 2022 Wonkathon is looking for ideas on how to reinvent high school: What policy barriers get in the way?


If we all agree that college-for-all is a mistake, should schools drop college-prep requirements to make time for career courses and work-based learning? "Should we drop foreign language class requirements, arts or physical education mandates, or newer requirements for civics or financial literacy courses?" (What about ethnic studies requirements?)


Other possibilities:

Replace credits with "mastery learning?"
Change school funding to support students learning outside their schools.
Rethinking teacher licensure rules, especially in non-college-prep pathways.
Reforming college entrance requirements.

Send your ideas -- 800 to 1,200 words -- no later than Nov. 30 to Brandon Wright, Fordham’s editorial director, at bwright@fordhaminstitute.org.


Many students are "sleep-walking" through high school, as Fordham puts it. Since schools closed, many are not in high school at all, while others are not motivated to show up consistently and do the work.

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Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Nov 17, 2022

Reinvent __ X __ (fill in the blank: education, cooking, transportation, bookkeeping, mail delivery, communication). How?

Experiment. Technological evolution.

In public policy, "experiment" means competitive markets in goods and services (i.e., freedom of association and the system of title and contract law) and/or federalism (subsidiarity, many local policy regimes).

We can no more imagine the future of education than Homo habilis, roasting a piece of scavenged antelope on a stick over a driftwood fire on the shore of Lake Turkana, can imagine a microwave oven.

We --can-- imagine a --process-- that yields more rapid technological evolution.

Step 1. Abolish the State-monopoly school system.

Restore to parents the power to determine for their own individual children the choice of curriculum and…

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Guest
Nov 15, 2022

I'm not a fan of eliminating sports and the arts (band, choir, art) - while I don't think it's directly the job of the school, it gives kids a place to belong and in many cases gives them another adult to be accountable to. I'd even suggest adding more, whatever the area would support - chess, debate, FFA, whatever. With where kids are right now, whatever we pay for or get volunteers to invest in is a small price compared to the community-building benefits.

I do wish that kids had some of the flexibility that homeschool kids have. At our local school, kids seem to have to take AP, even if they don't pass the test or if the clas…

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Guest
Nov 14, 2022

Too late. From pre-K to 8th grade the students are poorly served. Why reform 9th-12th institutions when NEAP shows a third to a half of 4th or 8th graders aren't at lowest ("basic") skill level?


We could be drastic and simply restrict HS academic admissions to the top 2/3rds of 8th graders. Steer the others to programs where reading and counting don't matter.

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Guest
Nov 14, 2022

The problem is a complete understanding of basics (reading, writing, and math) and without a solid knowledge of those, you simply cannot do the rest... Skilled trades today require solid math and reading/writing skills, and if you want to work in those areas, a basic understanding of algebra is needed (want to do CNC machining, algebra and basic trig is required).


I'd say have PE all four years of high school as many students are so out of shape they cannot qualify for enlistment in the US Armed Forces based on medical/obesity, moral, intelligence or disqualifying criminal background.


Credit recovery courses are the scam of the 21st century as many students simply look up the answers on their phones and…


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Guest
Nov 16, 2022
Replying to

That varies by state. When in high school, we all had to do PE. In my current state, all athletes and marching band members are exempted under the theory that they spend plenty of time moving during their practices.

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Guest
Nov 14, 2022

Why not do what Amanda Ripley suggest in The Smartest Kinds in the World. Get rid of sports, band, choir, and all of the distractions to academic learning. Move sports into its own world and out of the schools.

A broader review would go through everything that a middle school or high school does and eliminate everything that does not increase academic achievement.

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lady_lessa
Nov 15, 2022
Replying to

And what if music and math go together?


I believe that success after working hard in one area could lead to success in other areas. Or at least the carrot to encourage academic achievement.

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