kitchen table math, the sequel: choice

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


from Flypaper:
"Many of us who support school choice do so because of our hope that competition will force recalcitrant districts and unions to reform."

I left a comment.

Two comments, actually.


Laura M. said...

Catherine, I'm wondering if you have any thoughts about how realistic it might be to start a small charter school in Westchester.

Something like a mixed-age, low-tech, low-frills charter school with large class sizes, and a curriculum that students can work through as quickly as they are ready for, or as slowly and intensively as they need to.

Catherine Johnson said...

Laura - are you here in Westchester??

I am SO interested in seeing a charter school open here ---

I would like to be involved with exactly the sort of school you're describing - and I just can't for the life of me figure out whether what you're describing would be attractive to Westchester parents or not.

I do think you'd pull parents of gifted kids --- and probably parents of kids who are struggling??

You'd probably get a bunch of SPED kids, too.

I think you'd want to add 'college prep' or 'classical education' to the pitch (and to the reality), and I think it would also work to make a sharp distinction between the low-frills college prep go-at-your-own-rate school and all other Westchester public schools.

Also: you'd want to convey Lemov's "warm/strict" element -- I'll get a post up about that.

My vision is: Hogwarts on the Hudson.

A happy prep school.

Laura M. said...

I'm in Westchester, in the oppposite corner from you.

I just can't for the life of me figure out whether what you're describing would be attractive to Westchester parents or not.

I think there would definitely be enough interest for a kind of "school within a school" situation.

I'm just starting to think seriously about looking into this, so I have no idea if the logistics would be something I would have a hope of tackling, yet.

Catherine Johnson said...

Email me!

cijohn @

I've been wanting to explore the possibility of opening a Westchester charter school for at least two years now.

Catherine Johnson said...

Another thing: the minute "Building a Better Teacher" appeared in the TIMES, two parents, both very friendly to the administration here, touted it and asked that our teachers have professional development consistent with Lemov's taxonomy. One of those parents was the former school board president.

I conclude from that - correctly, I'm pretty sure - that there is huge parent appetite for direct instruction delivered by highly effective teachers.

Parents would be drawn to a charter school promising to use the taxonomy.

Laura M. said...

Just emailed you, Catherine.

And I agree, I think parents would be willing to accept larger class sizes, fewer "specials" and extra-curriculars, and less technology, in exchange for clearly defined, measurable goals, and the ability for their kid to move along at their own pace.

Catherine Johnson said...

Did I post the passage on class size from Wilson's article? ("A Penny Saved" at AEI)

Also, did you see the post on the "Knowledge Schools" in Sweden?

Parents are flocking to those schools, apparently. The "Knowledge Schools" are so no-frills that I think they may be for-profit.

Catherine Johnson said...

Swedish 'knowledge schools'

cheap private schools

A Penny Saved

The Efficient Use of Teachers by Steven F. Wilson (pdf file)

Princeton Charter School

Why Charter Schools? The Princeton Story

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