Cover Story

History 101

Issue: "Ideal schools," April 28, 2001

1635
At his death, John Cotton of Boston leaves half of his property to establish a school for poor children and orphans. The Latin Grammar School (later the Boston Latin School) is the first educational institution (outside the home) in the American colonies. The city of Boston helps fund the school with the proceeds from a land sale. 1642
Parents and apprentice masters must teach their children "to read and understand the principles of religion and the capital laws of this country," according to a new law passed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony. 1647
Massachusetts passes The Old Deluder Act, which becomes the basis for publicly funded schools. "It being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan, to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures," the Act reads, "It is therefore ordered that every township in this jurisdiction, after the Lord hath increased them to fifty households shall forthwith appoint one within their town to teach all such children as shall resort to him to write and read, whose wages shall be paid either by the parents or masters of such children, or by the inhabitants in general." Towns of 100 households must have Latin Grammar Schools, "to instruct youth so far as they may be fitted for the university," which, in the case of Harvard means being able "to understand Tully, or other such classical Latine Author extempore, and make and speake true Latine Verse and Prose ... and decline perfectly the Paradigm's of Nounes and Verbes in the Greek toungue." 1649
European philosopher John Amos Comenius publishes The Great Didactic to explain his methods for teaching the arts and sciences. This proto-progressivist values "the senses" over words in teaching. Children should learn their subjects through the use of pictures, models, music, and other "objective" aids, he contends. "The proper education of the young does not consist in stuffing their heads with a mass of words, sentences, and ideas dragged together out of various authors, but in opening up their understanding to the outer world, so that a living stream may flow from their own minds, just as leaves, flowers, and fruit spring from the bud on a tree." He very nearly invents Cliff's Notes: "Geographers and mapmakers present to the eye huge tracts of sea and land on a small scale, so that they can be taken in at a glance. Why, therefore, should not Cicero, Livy, Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, Tacitus etc., be treated in the same way and epitomized?" Although Comenius never comes to America (in 1654 he declines an invitation to become president of Harvard), his ideas do. 1671
Virginia's English governor, Sir William Berkeley, has a different attitude toward education: "I thank God, there are no free schools nor printing, and I hope we shall not have them these hundred years, for learning has brought disobedience, and heresy, and sects into the world, and printing has divulged them, and libels against the best government. God keeps us from them both." But not for long; five years later, Nathaniel Bacon will lead a rebellion of colonists against Berkeley, against taxation and against privilege. Bacon's death will cut the rebellion short, but this precursor to the American Revolution will force Berkeley to return home to England in disgrace. 1683
William Penn's "Frame of Government" for the Pennsylvania colony requires that "the Governor and provincial Council shall erect and order all public schools, and encourage and reward the authors of useful sciences and laudable inventions." 1690
"In ADAM'S Fall/We sinned all;" "Heaven to Find/The Bible mind;" "Christ crucify'd/For sinners dy'd." The alphabet and other lessons in the newly published New England Primer will for nearly two centuries teach children that knowledge without righteousness is worthless. "My Book and Heart/Must never part." 1751
Benjamin Franklin, now a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly, establishes the Philadelphia Academy, an attempt at a secular and "practical" alternative to the Latin Grammar Schools. The Academy emphasizes modern languages and trade skills such as accounting. Latin and Greek are still offered, but only grudgingly. One of Franklin's last pamphlets, composed during his last illness, is a screed against Latin and Greek. 1762
Jean Jacques Rousseau publishes Emile, or On Education. He sets out his philosophy (and lays out the foundation for the future progressive movement in education) in his opening sentence: "God makes all things good; man meddles with them and they become evil." The role of the educator is to "do nothing and let nothing be done," to keep "the mind inactive as long as possible." He says "Reading is the greatest plague of childhood," and that his fictitious pupil, Emile, "at the age of 12 will scarcely know what a book is." And above all, children must not be forced to learn what they don't want to. "Present interest: that is the great motive impulse, the only one that leads sure and far." It's this belief in "natural development" that progressives, including John Dewey, will later adopt. Rousseau, for the record, has little actual contact with children; he abandons each of his five illegitimate offspring at a foundling hospital with a high mortality rate. 1776
The Pennsylvania Constitution stipulates that "a school or schools shall be established in each county by the legislature, for the convenient instruction of youth, with such salaries to the masters paid by the public, as may enable them to instruct youth at low prices." 1783
Noah Webster publishes the first part of his Grammatical Institute of the English Language, which becomes known as the Blue-Backed Speller, with advice such as "Sloth keeps such a hold of some clowns, that they lie in bed when they should go to school; but a boy that wants to be wise will drive sleep far from him." The speller will sell 100 million copies over the next 100 years. Webster sees precious little of the royalties, and is later to become a strong advocate for a national copyright law. 1791
Diverse Philadelphia leaders including Benjamin Rush and Episcopal Bishop William White form the First Sunday Society, modeled on the English Sunday School Societies led by Robert Raikes. Because so many urban children work in factories six days a week and consequently receive no schooling, Raikes hires teachers and he pays children a penny apiece to come to school on Sundays. Though moral and religious training aren't neglected, the Sunday school's primary task is to teach children to read. The Philadelphia group hires two teachers, and over the next nine years enrolls more than 2,000 students. 1795
The American Philosophical Society asks the new nation's best minds to write essays on a national educational system. Men such as Benjamin Rush, Noah Webster, Samuel Knox, and Samuel Harrison Smith participate. Knox and Rush share the modest prize. Rush's essay says, "I beg leave to remark, that the only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments." 1805
New York Mayor DeWitt Clinton and other city leaders form a "Society Instituted in the City of New York for the Establishment of a Free School, for the Education of Poor Children, who do not belong to, or are not provided for, by any Religious Society"-or the New York Free School Society. It's an offshoot of the Sunday School Societies, but decidedly secular in nature. It applies to the state and to the city for funding and, partly because of Clinton's political stature, gets it. The Society introduces something relatively unknown: teacher training. The Society provides for a six- to eight-week program for teachers. 1818
The Boston Primary School is organized into six classes, with the goal of teaching children, ages 4 and up, to read and write (prior to this, families had seen to this before sending them to school). This will become the model for elementary schools. The primary school is based on the English "infant school" rather than the traditional grammar school; subjects normally taught in a grammar school-Latin and algebra, for example-are put off until a later "secondary" school. In 1821, the English Classical School opens and soon renames itself the English High School; it will provide education to youths not planning to attend college. 1834
Pennsylvania's Free School Act establishes a system of free public education in the state. It creates local school districts and empowers them to levy taxes to pay for elementary schools. 1836
William McGuffey begins publishing his Readers, which are to sell more than 125 million copies. The series contains readings such as, "If you can induce a community to doubt the genuineness and authenticity of the Scriptures; to question the reality and obligations of religion; to hesitate, undeciding, whether there be any such thing as virtue or vice; whether there be an eternal state of retribution beyond the grave; or whether there exists any such being as God, you have broken down the barriers of moral virtue and hoisted the flood gates of immorality and crime." 1838
Philanthropist Edmund Dwight donates $10,000 to found three "normal" schools for the training of teachers (the name comes from the standardized or "normal" curriculum). Massachusetts matches the sum, and the state is now in the business of educating teachers. 1856
German immigrant Mrs. Carl Schurz establishes the first American kindergarten. This "garden of children," like its European model, focuses on play, songs, and listening to stories read aloud. 1857
The leaders of 10 state teachers associations gather in Philadelphia and form the National Teachers Association; in 1870 it merges with two other groups to become the National Education Association. 1866
Pious Civil War Gen. O.O. Howard takes the reins of the newly established Freedmen's Bureau, and says education is the most pressing need of blacks in the South. It's only education, he says, that can ensure for freed slaves "privileges and rights that we now have difficulty to guarantee." He works through benevolent societies, such as the American Missionary Association, to establish and encourage schools. By 1870, some 4,200 "schools of all kinds" teach almost 250,000 freed slaves. 1887
An institution that has in the past called itself the Kitchen Garden Association (organized to teach youths to be cooks and maids) and the Industrial Education Association (when it added carpentry classes) refashions itself into the New York College for the Training of Teachers. It later becomes Teachers College, and finally, in 1893, the education department of Columbia University. 1892
After a visit to public schools in 36 cites, physician Joseph Mayer Rice writes a series of articles for the magazine Forum and helps to launch the progressive movement in education. One school, he writes, "is the most dehumanizing institution that I have ever laid eyes upon, each child being treated as if he possessed a memory and the faculty of speech, but no individuality, no sensibilities, no soul." He takes particular issue with memorization, with learning drills, and with strict discipline. He proposes "progressive schools" and writes glowing portrayals of experimental classrooms he has visited. 1894
John Dewey becomes chairman of the department of pedagogy at the University of Chicago (he's also chairman of the departments of psychology and philosophy). He soon opens a "laboratory school" with his wife and his students, in which he will experiment with new practices, and then advocate them as the first real leader of the progressive education movement. 1901
Clark University President G. Stanley Hall outlines progressive education at the annual meeting of the NEA: "Childhood, as it comes fresh from God, is not corrupt.... There is nothing else so worthy of love, reverence and service as the body and soul of the growing child.... We must overcome the fetishism of the alphabet, of the multiplication table, of grammars, of scales, and of bibliolatry." He warns the roomful of professional educators, "We are coming to understand the vanity of mere scholarship and erudition, and to know that even ignorance may be a wholesome poultice for weakly souls." His main target, and the target of the fast-developing movement, is the academic curriculum, or what has been called liberal education: Latin, Greek, mathematics, classical literature. 1906
The National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education forms in New York City, opening a second front in the war on the academic curriculum. Where progressivism denounces the academic curriculum as un-Romantic, industrial education advocates dismiss it as impractical. One enthusiast, President Theodore Roosevelt, gives the movement voice: "Our school system is gravely defective in so far as it puts a premium upon mere literary training and tends therefore to train the boy away from the farm and the workshop. Nothing is more needed than the best type of industrial school, the school for mechanical industries in the city, the school for practically teaching agriculture in the country." 1908
Harvard University President Charles Eliot, previously a defender of the academic curriculum, changes sides. He no longer defends a broad education as good for all, but agrees with "social efficiency" advocates that laborers need only be taught to labor. In a speech to the National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education, he says it's up to the experts to decide who will be the professionals and who will be the workers: "The teachers of the elementary schools ought to sort the pupils and sort them by their evident or probable destinies." 1915
John Dewey and his daughter Evelyn publish Schools of Tomorrow, in which he applauds "natural growth" and derides "information in the form of symbols." Their list of laudable experimental schools includes, for example, the Organic School in Fairhope, Ala., which does away with tests, grades, rewards, punishments, and promotions. Dewey follows up Schools of Tomorrow a year later with his seminal work, Democracy and Education. 1918
The NEA issues its "Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education," a mix of progressive and industrial educational ideas; the first principle listed is "Health." Others include "Worthy home membership," "Vocation," "Citizenship," and "Worthy use of leisure." Its first draft failed even to include the vague "Command of fundamental processes," the only reference to academics in the list. The notion of "health," or the "overall" good of the child, is the philosophical foundation for what will later be the self-esteem movement in education. 1919
Founders of a number of experimental schools (including many listed in Dewey's Schools of Tomorrow) come together to form the Progressive Education Association, which will become a deeply influential body. At its organizational meeting in Washington, D.C., the PEA adopts seven principles, including "Freedom to develop naturally," "Interest as the motive for all work," "The teacher as guide, not taskmaster," and "The progressive school as leader in educational movements." Harvard's Charles Eliot is the PEA's first president, though it is an honorary office. 1925
The Supreme Court overturns an Oregon law that sought to force all children to attend public schools. Parents have a right to choose to send their children to a private school, the Court says in Pierce vs. The Society of Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. "The child," the Court says, "is not the mere creature of the state." 1929
Robert Maynard Hutchins becomes president of the University of Chicago and immediately adds Mortimer Adler to the faculty. To the dismay of advocates of progressive education, Hutchins and Adler begin their quest to repopularize what they call the Great Books, the important literary works of Western civilization. Even high-school students must join "the Great Conversation," Hutchins says. He's sharply critical of the progressives; "Education implies teaching. Teaching implies knowledge. Knowledge is truth. Truth is everywhere the same." Progressive education leader William Heard Kilpatrick responds, "Dr. Hutchins stands near to Hitler. When you have a professed absolute, then you have to have some authority to give it content, and there the dictator comes in." 1930
By now all states have compulsory attendance laws, and the school year is 172 days. 1934
The first issue of The Social Frontier, produced by Teachers College of Columbia University, urges the remaking of American society through the schools. The journal's first editorial says that "for the American people the age of individualism in economy is closing and the age of collectivism is beginning." This journal describes not "teachers," but "educational workers." It says these must join "into a mighty instrument of group consensus, harmonious expression, and collective action." Overtly urging teachers (sorry, educational workers) to indoctrinate students, the journal soon calls for a "united front" between progressives and Marxists, as the brief Popular Front Era begins. 1935
Black scholar W.E.B. Du Bois warns educators that the utopian social agenda of the progressive education movement is a dangerous distraction. "No school as such can organize industry, or settle the matter of wage and income, can found homes or furnish parents, can establish justice or make a civilized world," he says in a speech to black teachers in Georgia. "The school has again but one way, and that is, first and last, to teach them to read, write, and count." 1942
The Progressive Education Association publishes its Eight-Year Study to support its claims that progressive education is better for children. Students in the 30 experimental schools did about as well as students in traditional schools, the report shows-and are "better oriented to adult life." This was measured by seeing how students reacted to a series of statements about democracy, economics, and other issues, answering "agree," "disagree," or "undecided." This deeply unsound study will nevertheless be cited again and again to undermine what remains of the academic curriculum. 1954
The Supreme Court in Brown vs. Board of Education rules segregated schools unconstitutional, saying that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." A year later the Court will order states to begin desegregation "with all deliberate speed." 1955
Rudolf Flesch publishes Why Johnny Can't Read and ignites the phonics wars. The "look-say" method of teaching children to read is a staple of the progressive education movement; Flesch says the method doesn't work. "Reading isn't taught at all. Books are put in front of the children and they are told to guess at the words or wait until Teacher tells them. But they are not taught to read." University departments of education have long since abandoned phonics, but the public will side with Flesch. Phonics will prevail, at least at the local school level, until look-say rises again as the whole-language method in the 1980s. 1957
The Soviet Union launches the Sputnik satellite into space and launches some serious soul-searching about American education. Two years later Admiral Hyman Rickover will write in his book Education and Freedom that "life in a modern industrial state demands a great deal more 'book learning' of everyone who wants to make a good living for himself and his family." 1960
Englishman A.S. Neill publishes Summerhill, a book about his exclusive school in Suffolk. The school did away with rules, he writes. "I believe that to impose anything by authority is wrong. The child should not do anything until he comes to the opinion-his own opinion-that it should be done. The curse of humanity is the external compulsion, whether it comes from the Pope or the state or the teacher or the parent. It is fascism in toto." By 1970, Summerhill is required reading in 600 university courses on this side of the Atlantic. 1965
A product of the Johnson administration's War on Poverty, the Head Start program begins as an eight-week summer program for about 560,000 young children. Its goal is to provide "comprehensive pre-kindergarten experiences" to poor children, and thereby "end a pattern of poverty." 1967
The New Republic publishes a series of articles lauding the British "open education" trend. In these "open" schools, children are allowed to roam from one activity center to the next. "In a rich environment young children can learn a great deal by themselves and most often their own choices reflect their needs." In 1970, Charles E. Silberman Americanizes this trend in his bestseller Crisis in the Classroom. The open school concept spreads quickly, with American schools even removing walls between classrooms. It fizzles just as quickly; by 1974 "open education" as a trend is dead. 1968
President Johnson signs the Bilingual Education Act, which provides funding to school districts for experiments in how best to educate students who speak little or no English. It's a well-intentioned effort; after all, as many as half of all Hispanic students in some cities are dropping out of high school, and civil-rights activists press for temporary, transitional help for non-English speakers. But educational theorists quickly hijack the movement. Two Texas researchers, for example, push their "theory of incompatibilities," which says that minority children must be taught in their own languages to respect their own cultures. The researchers hold that self-esteem, not mastery of English, is the real indicator of whether these children can achieve academic success. Later research will show these theories to be unsound, and parents will rebel against what they'll see as a new form of segregation. In 1995, a group of 150 Brooklyn parents will sue the school district for keeping their children in bilingual classes, thereby depriving them of adequate instruction in English, "the crucial skill that leads to equal opportunity in schooling, jobs, and public life in the United States." In 1997, 70 Latino families in Los Angeles will boycott the schools for two weeks, demanding their children be released from bilingual education classes. A year later, California voters will pass Proposition 227, requiring immersion in English-language classes. 1969
The Supreme Court rules that Mary Beth Tinker has the right to wear a black armband (protesting the Vietnam War) to her Des Moines high school. In Tinker vs. Des Moines, the Court says "It can be hardly argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." 1973
About 1.75 million children with disabilities are excluded from public schools, and another 4 million aren't receiving what advocates call "full educational services." That begins to change with passage of the federal Rehabilitation Act, which focuses on jobs but becomes the basis for a huge increase in special-education programs. When school districts respond slowly to this massive unfunded mandate, Congress in 1975 adds the Education for the Handicapped Act, which demands that educational environments for children with special needs must be the "least restrictive" possible. They must be "mainstreamed"-spending at least part of their days with nondisabled students. Resistance to mainstreaming arises from an unexpected quarter: regular classroom teachers, who feel they have neither the training nor the time necessary to teach disabled students. 1975
More and more doctors begin prescribing Ritalin to children with behavior problems. Within 25 years the number of American children taking the drug will rise from 150,000 to 6 million-or about one out of every eight. Doctor's aren't quite sure why the amphetamine (stimulant) seems to calm down hyperactive children; one doctor in 1976 speculates that it has something to do with television. Dr. Matthew Dumont writes, "The hyperactive child is attempting to recapture the dynamic quality of the television screen by rapidly changing his perceptual orientation. I also wonder if it is possible that amphetamines control his behavior by producing a subjective experience comparable to the fleeting worlds of television." In 1980 the American Psychiatric Association names the "illness" Ritalin purports to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). By the end of the 1990s, some parents will feel pressured by school officials to medicate their children, an impression strengthened by the fact that schools get additional federal funding for students diagnosed as ADD. 1979
Fulfilling a promise he made to the National Education Association prior to his election, President Jimmy Carter makes the secretary of education a cabinet-level position. But the move isn't a popular one; the nation's second largest teachers union and even the AFL-CIO are against it. The Washington Post warns that "shifting federal education programs to a separate department increases bureaucratic costs." In a California suburb, 16-year-old Brenda Spencer opens fire on an elementary school, killing two adults and wounding nine students. A six-hour siege ensues, and a reporter gets through to her on the telephone. When asked why, she responds, "I don't like Mondays. This livens up the day." 1981
The Texas Education Agency, in an early response to the growing homeschool movement, issues a grammatically awkward policy statement: "Educating a child at home is not the same as private school instruction, and therefore, not an acceptable substitute." Texas, like most states, tries to use compulsory attendance laws to punish homeschoolers, but in 1985, a handful of these parents and the Home School Legal Defense Association win a decision from the state Supreme Court: Homeschools are legitimate private schools. By the year 2000, an estimated 1.7 million children (grades K-12) are being homeschooled. 1983
A Nation at Risk is how the National Committee on Excellence in Education describes the state of public education. "The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people." The public is already concerned about schools, so states begin evaluating their standards, their graduation requirements, and teachers' salaries. 1984
0The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund sues Texas Commissioner of Education William Kirby, on behalf of the property-poor Edgewood Independent School District in San Antonio. Edgewood has about $38,850 in taxable property per student, compared to the more than $570,000 in the nearby Alamo Heights ISD. Ultimately the Texas Supreme Court will rule the state's school funding system unconstitutional, and order reform. The state legislature comes up with "Robin Hood" plans, ways of shifting money from property-rich districts to property-poor ones. This idea spreads to other states, including New Jersey, Arizona, Ohio, and Colorado. 1987
E.D. Hirsch Jr.'s Cultural Literacy becomes a bestseller and calls on educators to pay attention to content, not just method. Actual knowledge is the point of education, he says: Facts and figures, not feelings, allow knowledge to build on knowledge. Hirsch's list of necessary knowledge, "the basic information needed to thrive in the modern world," is dismissed by educrats as "trivia," but Cultural Literacy sells so well that Hirsch creates a foundation to help schools committed to a "core knowledge" curriculum. 1988
American Federation of Teachers president Albert Shanker makes a major concession to the pressure for educational reform; in a column in The New York Times, he says the AFT has "proposed that local school boards and unions jointly develop a procedure that would enable teams of teachers and others to submit and implement proposals to set up their own autonomous public schools within their school buildings.... But what name would capture all this? ... The best answer so far is 'charter schools.'" In 1991, Minnesota will pass the first law enabling charter schools; by the year 2000, 34 states will have charter schools, serving more than 500,000 children. Essentially, they're privately run public schools, designed so that groups of like-minded parents and teachers can educate kids their way. They range from back-to-the-basics schools to left-leaning progressive institutions. While they're a step toward reform, they're not a very big step; they're still public schools, subject to the same regulations and philosophical sea-changes. Even so, educrats will try to block charter school development; the AFT itself will turn against them. Charter schools were a good idea, the AFT president will say in 2000, but "in too many instances, that idea has become anything but good in practice." 1989
A committee of minority representatives appointed by New York state's education commissioner issues a report slamming the state's new social studies curriculum. It's harmful to minority children's self-esteem, the report claims, because it shows "deep-seated pathologies of racial hatred" by teaching "Eurocentrism and "white nationalism." The report's primary author, Leonard Jeffries Jr., gets some national attention for his crass words about other races. What the incident reveals is that while the public has been concerned about standards and content, the educational establishment has been wrangling over something called "multiculturalism." 1990
Wisconsin begins the Milwaukee Parental Choice program; it's the first "vouchers" program that provides government funds to parents, who can use the money to send their children to the schools of their choice. Initially limited to 1,500 kids and to non-sectarian schools, it's hugely controversial-and hugely popular. Two years after the choice program begins, citizens form Partners Advancing Values in Education, a group to raise money to send more kids to private schools, at least until the Milwaukee choice program can be expanded. Teachers unions become the school choice program's most ardent foes. Delegates to the 2000 National Education Association Representative Assembly will vote to hike membership dues $5 per year, to help fund legal and lobbying efforts against vouchers. Cleveland will begin its own school choice experiment in 1995, with the unions and the Democratic party opposing it vigorously. A private vouchers movement, free of court challenges, develops as well. 1994
Congress enacts Goals 2000: Educate America Act, with eight laudable-sounding goals. "High standards" are the common theme, but the law is heavy-handed, using phrases such as "states will" 45 times. (The word "should," more common in such legislation, is used only three times.) Upon closer examination, even the standards themselves are suspect; Lynne V. Cheney intellectually shreds the first of these, the federal History Standards, in a Wall Street Journal piece. Republicans take control of Congress later in the year, and soon work to dismantle many of the Goals 2000 components. 1995
Republicans try to dismantle the federal Department of Education, but the vote to eliminate its funding from the FY 1996 budget falls short. Still, Republicans are able to eliminate nearly 150 outdated or duplicated programs and consolidate 17 others. 1996
Barry Loukaitis, 14, shoots up his algebra class in Moses Lake, Wash., killing the teacher and two students. It's the first in what will seem an uninterrupted string of school shootings. Next will come Bethel, Alaska (a principal and one student killed); then Pearl, Miss. (two students killed, seven wounded); West Paducah, Ky. (three students killed, five wounded while praying); Jonesboro, Ark. (four students and one teacher killed, 10 others wounded); Edinboro, Pa. (one teacher killed, two students wounded); and Springfield, Ore. (two students killed and 22 wounded). These will seem dwarfed by the carnage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., when on April 20, 1999, 14 students and a teacher will be killed, along with 23 others wounded. 1999
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush launches the "A+ Schools" program, a publicly funded vouchers program that will become the model for his brother George W. Bush's proposals during his presidential bid. The Florida plan punishes failing schools by taking away funding, and offering it to parents of students in those schools as vouchers to pay for private education. The program is tiny (providing vouchers to a total of 53 children its first year) but it proves to have a huge ripple effect; all 78 schools making an F on a state evaluation will score passing grades within a year. 2000
The top three winners of this year's National Spelling Bee are children who are homeschooled. George Thampy, 12, of Maryland Heights, Mo., wins the bee with the word demarche, which means a maneuver. The week before, George had placed second in the National Geography Bee.

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