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Rethinking Schools

Pete Springer/OPB

In his first major speech on education policy, President Obama called for a broad rethinking of the U.S. education system. He advocated for a range of improvements from “better standards and assessments” to the end of state caps on charter schools. The Northwest has many examples of innovative education, but also, critics argue, much room for improvement. What are successful models of schooling in this part of the country?

In his education speech, President Obama said:

One of the places where much of that innovation occurs is in our most effective charter schools. And these are public schools founded by parents, teachers, and civic or community organizations with broad leeway to innovate — schools I supported as a state legislator and a United States senator.

Oregon has plenty of examples of schools already rethinking the structure and model of the school day. At Ashland High School, for instance, students can apply to participate in the Wilderness Charter School. It’s an alternative program within the school where children spend a year learning in a straw bale classroom. They study permaculture and green building; they participate in backpacking trips and on-site gardening.

What does innovation in Oregon schools look like? What schools in your neighborhood have embraced dynamic reforms? Are you a teacher, parent or student in one of these schools? What sets it apart? Are you working to implement creative changes in the educational model in your community?


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