Not All Classroom Ideas Are ‘Great’

Published February 7, 2007

Dear Editor:

Judging by its headlines (“Classroom ideas that work,” Feb. 4; “5 more great classroom ideas,” Feb. 7), the Tribune editorial board does not lack self-esteem. However, not all of the ideas in its education-reform series are hot stuff. For instance, simply making the school day and year longer will not boost learning if public schools continue to wallow in bureaucratic and pedagogical minutiae. It would be wiser first to figure out how to quit wasting time.

It was particularly disappointing that the board saved its best idea (‘create more choices’) for last, and then embraced it only half-heartedly. Yes, lifting the cap on public charter schools and fully funding them are good ideas. But a great idea would be to expand options beyond the government-controlled system by letting money follow children to private or parochial schools of the families’ choosing. In Milwaukee, competition from private vouchers has spurred public schools to improve. Why not Chicago?

Robert Holland ([email protected]) is Senior Fellow for Education Policy for The Heartland Institute.