Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Progressive Utah

I don't often think of Salt Lake City, Utah as a bastion of progressive anything, including educational ideas. But maybe it's time to start re-evaluating some of those ideas. After all, one school district in the area is rethinking their ideas.

The Canyons School District which serves a high population of ELLs and kids growing up in poverty is beginning to take on an approach to educate "the whole child." This means focusing on more than strictly-defined academic standards. It means providing free meals to kids who need it, ensuring that students receive dental care (because "It's amazing how much of a difference being able to see or not feeling the constant pain of rotting teeth will make in the academic achievement of a child"), and generally making sure that kids' basic needs are met so that they can focus on the college-bound curriculum that will lead to their success later in life.

The district is also working with parents to provide GED classes and other information and services that will help them better care for their children.

I really, truly believe that this is the way of the future for education reform. Focusing just on schools (or just on what happens outside of schools) isn't going to get us the results we need. Focusing on the whole child or even the whole family is the way we're going to get whole results.

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