Reform Plans and Early Graduation Incentives
Over at the New York Times, Harold O. Levy, former New York City schools chancellor, outlines “Five Ways to Fix America’s Schools”:
- Raise the age of compulsory education.
- Use high-pressure sales tactics to curb truancy.
- Advertise creatively and aggressively to encourage college enrollment.
- Unseal college accreditation reports so that the Department of Education can take over the business of ranking colleges and universities.
- Produce more qualified applicants, beginning by encouraging an appropriate home environment.
The plan holds fast to the trend set by many recent “pop” education reform plans: well-intentioned and wildly insufficient. Levy is vague when it comes to articulating policy mechanics, and is more than a little idealistic about implementation, yet he does succeed in identifying three great values for guiding education reform of any kind: choice, transparency, and the importance of continuing investments in human capital.
To his credit, Levy does make note of one specific policy initiative that I love: scholarships for early-graduating high-schoolers equal to the state’s per-pupil spending, for every year till they have reached the age limit of compulsory education. Similar programs have been tried out in Texas and Arizona, with successful results and enthusiastic participants.
I imagine that such policies would:
- promote the growth of students who feel restrained by the pace of their curriculum;
- extend greater financial opportunities to students wishing to continue investing in their human capital;
- free up seats in overcrowded high schools, allowing teachers to focus on smaller classrooms filled with students who may prefer or require a slower pace of teaching.
Those potential gains could warrant serious discussion about the use of such programs in Missouri, and how they could aid students. Feel free to comment!