Boots & Sabers

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0723, 09 Apr 18

Madison’s Micro-School

This really looked like a promising concept.

As promised, a new off-site “micro-school” for about a dozen troubled students from La Follette High School opened Thursday for a nine-week try at re-engagement.

The pilot program’s first day at Life Center Madison, a rented church space located about 2 miles southeast of the high school on the city’s Southeast Side, followed a family night two days earlier during which the alternative concept received what Madison School District secondary schools chief Alex Fralin called “tremendous buy-in” from parents.

Although it seems like an expensive idea, it looked like it might work. It separates the malcontents from the rest if the students and provides them some very personalized instruction that will hopefully take.

Then I read this:

But administrators are optimistic the micro-school could prove different, in part because the students chose to be there — enrollment in the program was voluntary — and because they helped design the curriculum, revolving around project work, soft skills, experiential learning and the study of “real-world” math and science.

Ugh. So they are asking problem kids if they want to get out of regular school and go somewhere where they can set their own curriculum. Never mind.


0723, 09 April 2018


  1. Mark Hoefert

    I don’t know – I would not be so quick to dismiss looking at alternatives like this.  Ideas like this might have more potential to reduce violence in schools than changing gun laws.  Public schools are a “command and control” structure.  Look how school choice is perceived as a threat to the system. For some kids, it is literally a prison environment – they have no choice.  Attendance is compulsory and programs are several varieties of “one-size fits all”.   For someone manifesting mental illness issues, they are like a “caged animal” with no means to escape.  Thus, a key component is giving the student a choice to participate in this program – rather have them “buy in” to the concept and own that decision.  See, it comes back to “School Choice”.





  2. Charlie Hillman

    Agree with Mark. A good idea with poor implementation is still a good idea. All schools, public or private, should be looking at a more personalized approach. One might imagine that would increase costs but with judicious use of technology, it seems we can offer more choice and be more effective at lower costs.

  3. Owen

    I agree with that, Charlie. Entire industries are leveraging technologies to create more individualized experiences. There’s no reason that education can’t do the same.

  4. Kevin Scheunemann

    Charlie, I agree with you in theory, but public school governance usually messes up a good idea in record time.

  5. Charlie Hillman

    It seems to me that the Universities have made a HUGE mistake by investing so heavily in bricks and mortar during the past couple of decades. Not only have they priced themselves out of the market but are now easy prey to the virtual education providers. I understand that he is somehow considered a turncoat by the lunatic right, but I think Charlie Sykes nailed it in “Fail U”.


  6. dad29

    It seems to me that the Universities have made a HUGE mistake by investing so heavily in bricks and mortar during the past couple of decades.

    Here in Wisconsin, lots of those dollars were spent by Tommy Thompson in return for the educators giving him a pass on paving over the entire State.

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