Learning Curve School Reform Ace Says State Ready

Article excerpt

Theodore R. Sizer, one of the nation's leaders in school reform, wrote a decade ago that traditional teaching fell far short of serving students in America's public high schools.

Now, after years of urging a redesign of America's high schools, Sizer sees hope.

"There is a greater readiness for people to back new ideas in schools," Sizer said here Tuesday during a round of meetings with local and state educators. His visit was organized by the area center for the Coalition for Essential Schools, a group exploring his principles. Sizer is chairman of the coalition. About 30 private and public schools in the St. Louis area and about 1,000 schools nationwide are involved. Sizer, 64, envisions schools that focus on students' work, schools designed by teachers and the community, schools that are highly flexible depending on students' needs. Sizer admires large schools that have broken into smaller units. "One cannot teach a student well if one does not know that student well," Sizer writes in his new book, "Horace's Hope," the third in a series about teaching, learning and reform. Sizer recently retired from his teaching post at Brown University in Providence, R.I., and stepped down as director of the Annenberg Institute of School Reform to devote more time to coalition work. He worries that schools are asked to do too much during classes that are too short. Sizer admires schools that have lengthened the class time and narrowed their academic offerings to a core, including English, math, science, history, philosophy and the arts. …