"If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin." - Ivan Turgenev
— Great Minds Quotes (@GreatestQuotes) November 20, 2012
Racially diverse, subject to collective bargaining, fulfilling a need
By Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Jessica Hockett
These are some of the highest-achieving high schools in the United States. In contrast to elite boarding and day schools such as Andover and Sidwell Friends, however, they are public. And unlike the comprehensive taxpayer-funded options in affluent suburbs such as Palo Alto and Winnetka, they don’t admit everyone who lives in their attendance area.
Sometimes called “exam schools,” these academically selective institutions have long been a part of the American secondary-education landscape. The schools are diverse in origin and purpose. No single catalyst describes why or how they began as or morphed into academically selective institutions.
Some arose from a desire (among parents, superintendents, school boards, governors, legislators) to provide a self-contained, high-powered college-prep education for able youngsters in a community, region, or state. Others started through philanthropic ventures or as university initiatives.
A number of them were products of the country’s efforts to desegregate—and integrate—its public-education system, prompted by court orders, civil rights enforcers and activists, or federal “magnet school” dollars.
Exam schools are sometimes controversial because “selectivity” is hard to reconcile with the mission of “public” education. Even school-choice advocates typically assert that, while families should be free to choose their children’s schools, schools have no business selecting their pupils. Other people are troubled by reports of insufficient “diversity” among the youngsters admitted to such schools.
With such criticisms in mind, we set out to explore this unique and little-understood sector of the education landscape. Wanting first to determine how many there are and where they are located, we also wondered whether the “exam school” could be a worthy response to the dilemma of how best to develop the talents of our nation’s high-performing and high-potential youth in a climate consumed with gap closing and leaving no child behind.
Could the selective public high school play a larger role in educating our country’s high-achieving pupils?
Read more here: Exam Schools From the Inside
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Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He is the Head of the English Department at Colegio Internacional SEK in Santiago, Chile.
He is the Co-Founder and Co-Organiser of EdCamp Santiago, free, participant-driven, democratic, conversation based professional development for teachers, by teachers. EdCamp Santiago 2012 was held at Universidad Mayor in Santiago.Thomas was recently selected for membership in the Comunidad de Innovación Escolar of the Foundation Telefónica and Foundation Educación 2020. It is a network that brings together education professionals concerned with developing and strengthening the capacities of their educational communities through creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Thomas is also a past member (2011-2012) of the Advisory Board for the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL), where he also serves as a reviewer and as the HETL Ambassador for Chile.
Thomas enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. Thus far, he has written the following genres: romance, historical fiction, autobiographical, sports history/biography, and English Language Teaching. He has published a total of forty eight (48) books overall.
The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family, his wife Gabriela, and his son, Thomas Jerome Baker, Jr.