Dr. Steve Perry, author of Push Has Come to Shove, is the founder and principal of headline-making Capital Prep Magnet School, which sends all of its mostly low-income, minority students to four-year colleges. He is also the chief contributor to CNN on education issues. Capital Prep has been visited by experts from around the world to study the magic taking place there! Today we’ve asked Dr. Steve Perry to share with us what he thinks can make a difference in the education system and what he’s doing at his school.
Dr. Perry’s Tips for a Better Education System
1. New Schools, New Books: We must update the school curriculum to ignite interest in learning. At Capital Prep, the English department teaches such classics as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Grapes of Wrath, and Catcher In The Rye, but not exclusively. Our staffers want to better understand what the kids want to read, whether it be The Hunger Games Trilogy or Eragon. Bottom line, the challenge is for educators to figure out what students want to read and learn how to teach from that material. Parents can also play a big role by going to the library with their kids and encouraging them to read or download books that interest them.
2. Technology: We need to revamp both what we’re teaching and how we’re teaching. New texts and technology must go hand in hand. Some of the changes we’ve made at Capital Prep include teaching with Smart boards (interactive whiteboards); giving students and parents online access to grades; and encouraging teachers and students to exchange questions and homework over Gmail and Google Docs. At home, it’s equally important for parents to get involved in technology with their kids. There’s a great new resource called Khan Academy that everyone should check out. Khan offers free online educational math and science videos and he makes it rewarding by offering students badges and points for learning. It’s also important for parents to remember that they must know what their kids are doing online. It’s not always possible – or even preferable – to look over your kid’s shoulder, but you must at least audit their computer use by checking the history of their internet searches and the cache of chats and emails.
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3. Year-Round Education: Children everywhere need access to year-round education. Teachers’ unions are working from outdated calendars. There’s no justification for short days and long summers, which especially harm lower-income students who don’t have the means for summer learning opportunities. Capital Prep students attend school year-round and we keep it interesting so they are happy to be there.
4. New Strategies: It’s not about building more schools – rather, it should be about building better schools. We need to shift the focus from reformation to transformation. I’ve tried to do that at Capital Prep and I’m encouraging others to get on board fast.
Download an excerpt of Dr. Steve Perry’s Push Has Come to Shove. Visit Dr. Perry online at www.Dr-StevePerry.com.
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