House Representative Wants to Make K-12 Education Optional

An empty classroom.

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Paul Mosley is a newcomer to the Arizona House of Representatives. He’s a Republican from Lake Havasu City, and he’s ready to leave his mark on the state.

A dark and ugly mark.

While Mosley claims to support all walks of school from public to elite, he also thinks that school should be entirely optional. Optional.

“Education used to be a privilege,” he said in an interview with the Arizona Capitol Times. “People used to believe getting an education was something you had to be privileged to get, that you had to work hard to get. Now we basically force it down everybody’s throats.

“The number one thing I would like to repeal is the law on compulsory education… I believe education is still a privilege, and the kids who don’t want to be there are a larger distraction to the kids who do want to be there.”

While he criticizes schools for taking over the “personal responsibility” of parents, he does so in the same breath as he acknowledges that schools feed poor children and give them protection for half their waking hours. But he believes that all that is overstepping the responsibilities of the state.

Compulsory education in the United States is nearly four hundred years old. It began with a 1642 law in the Massachusetts Bay Colony requiring parents to raise their children with basic literacy. Two hundred years later, that had evolved to a law requiring every town to have a common school and all children to attend. In 1918, Mississippi was the last state to adopt compulsory education.

Education has never been more important. There are fewer and fewer blue collar jobs every year. The current projection is that by 2020, when this year’s freshmen graduate, 65 percent of all American jobs will require training or school beyond high school.

While Mosley has not yet introduced legislation to make school purely optional, he plans to do so. Arizona is already among the worst educational environments in America. His preferences would send it straight to the dark ages.

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Harvard Launches Program Aimed at Building Better Quality Teachers

Harvard campus

A new Harvard program will help train K-12 teachers to be the best they can be.
Image: Marcio Jose Bastos Silva / Shutterstock

The benefits of a superior education are most often related to personal gain: higher wages, better economic mobility and, generally, a better life.

Education is highly valued at Harvard University, which offers a culture-enriching experience of intense learning combined with low student to faculty ratios and connections that will last a lifetime. It’s no surprise that the university’s alumni network is comprised of many accomplished individuals including Mark Zuckerberg, J Christopher Flowers, Bill Gates, and Natalie Portman.

To help improve the quality of teachers in struggling public schools in the United States, Harvard University is launching a new training program for teachers that will combine instruction in teaching processes with practices in the classroom under the guidance of a mentor. It’s hoped that this program will serve as a national model. Beginning in January 2016, two dozen Harvard seniors will participate in a three-year fellowship designed to combine pedagogy – studying the methods of teaching from industry experts through extensive practice in the classroom under mentor supervision. Next year, fellows will teach two or three classes a day while working with an on-site mentor, receive training from a faculty advisor, and take an online Harvard course. After working part time, the fellows will be put on full time, but will go back to the university for retreats, conferences, and summer courses.

They also have the option to take six more credits to earn a Master’s degree for about $10,000, compared to $45,000 for Harvard’s traditional Master’s program. “Thanks to $18 million from private donors who wish to remain anonymous, the program is free to fellows,” Lyndsey Layton notes in the Washington Post.

According to James E. Ryan, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the university has three goals: to improve the quality of classroom teachers in urban schools, to construct a model that can be successfully used elsewhere, and to present teaching as a worthwhile career to Harvard students and their peers who don’t usually think of K-12 teaching in the same manner as law, medicine, or business.

The university plans to study the fellowship over time. “People are going to want to see how this goes. The hope is if this program is vibrant and successful, it will encourage replication,” said Ryan.