Once we move from the debate on charters versus district schools, the next question for both sectors to consider is this: What does great education look like?
According to Ted Fujimoto, founder of the Right to Succeed Foundation, it doesn’t look like what we have now. He says that nationally, only 25% of students today are receiving the education they need to qualify for a middle-class paying job or even be hired by the U.S. military. This means that 20 years from now, if this trajectory continues, 75% of Americans will not be able to pay for themselves.
That’s why he is working to change this trajectory over the next ten years by “transforming” 30,000 schools.
How to do that? One way is to create 6,000 demonstration schools using replicable school designs that can help transform others in their communities. He calls it the “American Dream Schools Initiative.”
He founded the Right to Succeed Foundation because when he talked with parents and educators around the country, very few could articulate what a great school could be. But everyone seems to know what a great school isn’t.
I agree with Mr. Fujimoto that for any transformation to take place, we need to know what we are fighting for–not just what we are fighting against. Right to Succeed, he says, creates community and national-level awareness on what great education can look like, makes communities aware of replicable whole-school designs that can be accessed, and works with policymakers to build a supportive environment (less regulated) to allow school designs to succeed.
What does great education look like? Not just one picture. It is many pictures and strategies, created within the “Freedom to be Better.” 6,000 demonstration schools with replicable designs are ambitious, but a very fine start.