Is there such a thing as too much choice? Reader: this is what is known as a rhetorical question—and the rhetorical answer is “no.” But don’t allow me to make up your rhetorical mind for you. I insist that you accompany me on an extra-special field trip, to the choiciest burg in our 50 states: Douglas County, Choice-o-Rado. Regular readers will recall DougCo from our inaugural visit and a recent return. What brings us back again? In a word: choice.
In a matter of weeks the lucky children of DougCo, Choice-o-Rado will resume traversing the global achievement gap and hurtling towards world class outcomes, drawing ever closer to the snowy caps of Prosperity Peak. Now, thanks to the visionaries at the helm of the Douglas County Schools, these young prosperity prospectors have a little extra ballast in their backpacks. Reader: it’s called choice, and no one understands it better than DougCo’s youngest choice makers.
Beginning this fall, DougCo’s students and their parents will have a veritable choice-u-copia of choices from which to choose. In fact, the school district’s new niche model, in which schools choose a theme, parents and students choose a themed school to attend, and teachers choose a themed school at which to teach, involves so many choices that the district is now offering a special school choice selector just to help choosy choosers navigate all of their choices. Let’s give it a whirl, shall we?
Now the first thing we do is select the icon that best speaks to our choice. Alas, our first choice, the sock monkey, doesn’t seem to represent anything, so we go with number two: the bookends. Good choice, reader, as we’ve arrived at Educational Philosophy. But what a thicket of choices for us to wade through. Should we choose the Culture of Thinking, which “provides resources to create a culture of thinking, based on Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education Research”? Or perhaps a MicroSociety, in which kids create a community as a “microcosm of the real world inside the school”? Or maybe Gender Based Learning? Cooperative Learning? Positive Behavior Support? In all, we’ve got 16 choices to choose from—and that’s just Educational Philosophy. Don’t forget to save plenty of time to make your content specific choices, not to mention activities and enrichment.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty decisive so have quickly chosen a choice for my would-be DougCo little ones. I’m going with MicroSociety, with a frisson of Positive Behavior Support and an after school Cup Stacking Club. What do you mean that’s not a choice??? Fine then. I guess I have no choice but to go with my second choice: I’ll go with the Highly Effective Teaching (HET) that everyone is so het up about, throw in a Comprehension Tool Kit and a little Katie Wood Ray Units of Study Approach just to balance it all out. That’s not a choice either? What kind of Soviet-era system are we living in? Milton Friedman, the grandfather of school choice and the inspiration behind DougCo’s choiceification, deserves better.
Obviously transitioning from the bad olde days of choicelessness to a choicetastic future involves more than just saying the word *choice* over and over again. I’m wondering if perhaps the Douglas County Schools might want to consider adding a handsomely paid staff member just to aide parents and students in navigating the many choices that lie before them? This just in: The Douglas County School District now hiring a Director of Student and Parent Choice.
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