Tuesday, February 01, 2011

SLA is not a Backsliding Hippie School

My annual post-EduCon chill-out-about-SLA post, in the form of a comment at Ira Socol's:

SLA is pretty much what it says it is and what it thinks it is, an educationally-progressive science magnet school in the Philadelphia School District. The hype around EduCon tends to get ramped up even more by people for whom a successful progressive high school is a novelty.

On the other hand, it is not a Summerhill model free school, nor does it think it is. The structure of the school is a self-conscious compromise to fit into the existing, treacherous political structure.

What sets SLA apart is the quality of the implementation. To be honest, "innovation" is a red herring. Everything that can be done in education already has been done, many times. What matters is how well you do it.

1 comment:

Jill Davidson said...

Excellent points. SLA as you and others describe it (I haven't yet had the opportunity to visit) may seem a novelty but of course is not - there are whole lot of other successful progressive public non-charter schools nationwide, including but not limited to Boston Arts Academy, Humanities Prep in NYC, Federal Hocking High School in Stewart, Ohio, Souhegan High School in Amherst, New Hampshire, Global Connections High School in SeaTac, Washington, Metro Early College High School in Columbus, Ohio, and Lehman Alternative Community School in Ithaca, New York. Each has its own story about how it has managed to sustain success through commitment to progressive principles in sometimes unsupportive or frankly inhospitable situations. The really interesting stories are, as you point out, in the commitment to implementation and the willingness to deal with compromise. I appreciate your focus on those two elements - they're where the stories and areas for research that will allow other schools to find their footholds are.