Think of how school should look, not how it does.
Customs and laws around the days, hours, and months that children are required to sit in classrooms are largely manifestations of habit. However, schools around the country are experimenting with new models, such as four-day school weeks that allow students to pursue self-directed learning on the fifth day, year-round schooling, elimination of subject blocks/period, more out-of-classroom learning opportunities, and other changes to how we think of a typical school day.
A note on microschools, hybrid homeschools, and other small, student-centered learning environments.
Some of the most innovative approaches to education over the past decade have been occurring under the radar of traditional policy discussions. Sometimes described as a “return to the one-room schoolhouse,” innovative “schooling” models are popping up across the country in the form of “microschools,” “hybrid homeschools,” “education co-ops,” and other models.
These intentionally small schools are examples of “edupreneurism” at its finest. Educators are meeting the demand for student-centered education in small environments by creating their own schools. Instead of starting with the idea that a school needs to be a large building, fully staffed, and with multi-million dollar operating budgets on day one, these small schools start small and expand (or stay small) to meet demand based on what is working.
These schools are hyperlocal in nature and independent in behavior. Their stakeholder is the parent and their child – not multiple levels of government. It is this “permissionless” ethos that is allowing them to thrive while other models plateau or see declining enrollment.
While there are no universal policy goals that each state should embrace to see these schools thrive (they can operate as homeschools, private schools, charter schools or even embed in district schools), lawmakers should consider whether policy changes support or inhibit the growth of these innovative, student-centered models.