Sunday, September 20, 2009

An Open Letter to Parents

The New Three “R”s By Steve McCrea, Independent Educator

I’m a tutor for middle school students, so I often get asked: “What should my child be studying?” “Can you recommend a good web site to help him get ahead?” “My child has difficulty reading—can you tutor him?” Parents could present other questions to a teacher: “What should parents be learning?” I would answer, “Did you catch that important speech given by Bill Gates?”

In February 2005, Bill Gates gave a landmark speech at a conference of governors praising small schools. I missed it, and chances are that you did, too, because the speech was overwhelmed by the media’s focus on the Michael Jackson trial and Terri Schiavo. Here’s the essence of what Gates said:

“Successful schools are built on principles that can be applied anywhere. These are the new three Rs, the basic building blocks of better high schools: The first R is Rigor – making sure all students are given a challenging curriculum that prepares them for college or work. The second R is Relevance– making sure kids have courses and projects that clearly relate to their lives and their goals. The third R is Relationships – making sure kids have a number of adults who know them, look out for them, and push them to achieve.”

The three Rs are almost always easier to promote in smaller schools. The smaller size gives teachers and staff the chance to create an environment where students achieve at a higher level and rarely fall through the cracks. Students in smaller schools are more motivated, have higher attendance rates, feel safer, and graduate and attend college in higher numbers.”

Bill Gates February 26, 2005
National Education Summit on High Schools

Read more in the coming posts about how you, a taxpayer, can help reform our schools...

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