What school choice & high schools that work look like

Yesterday, I called, asked for and received a copy of the OEA’s lawsuit centered on the Dayton Public Schools. (I looked at it last night but need to spend more time with it before writing.) During my phone conversation with Michele Prater, Media Relations Consultant with the OEA, I mentioned a number of opinions I had, based on my experience, related to unions, charters, education reform and, of course, blogging.

Michele agreed with me that, if and when done right, charter schools have a place in the education landscape. But Ohio’s implementation of the schools has gone horribly wrong. I look forward to watching and writing about how our state works to right the situation.

In the meantime, one example of school choice available is Cincinnati’s Woodward Traditional High School‘s Woodward Career Technical High School, which is profiled here. [Full disclosure: I wrote for KnowledgeWorks for two years while covering Euclid High School’s transition to the small schools model. I receive their emailed newsletter with the story of Woodward in it.] From the KW piece:

When KnowledgeWorks Foundation joined a community-wide collaboration planning a new technical high school in Cincinnati a few years ago, leaders knew they would be helping provide students with a wide range of learning experiences. They couldn’t have known, though, that one of those experiences would be rebuilding homes demolished by Hurricane Katrina.

Forty-two students in the Building Technologies program at Woodward Career Technology High this month applied their newly honed skills to help New Orleans area residents whose homes still haven’t been repaired from the August 2005 storm.

Woodward, housed in a new $46 million facility, offers high standards academics and career technical education programs in three small schools with individual focuses on advanced technologies and engineering, building technologies and architecture, or health occupations/bio-science.

Students who took their construction abilities to Louisiana learned their skills by building smaller versions of homes from the ground up in the school’s four construction labs, where they can build and equip bathrooms, kitchens and closets, and learn plumbing and electrical wiring.

The school is the result of a unique collaboration among community leaders outside the educational system and administrators and teachers from Cincinnati Public Schools, a process that began when a regional business summit identified the connection between workforce development and quality of life in the region.

Can we replicate this? How do we replicate it? For how many students might this work, how many of the diverse communities in Ohio might it work? How do we graft from it?

Ohio is not a state void of ideas or idea people. But examples like Woodward make me wonder if we’re just not trying hard enough, often enough – which, to me, really means, on a consistent, constant basis.

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