It’s time to disrupt education, Alabama

At the beginning of this school year, I reported on the exciting possibilities for education in the coming decades. Since then, significant progress has been made in Alabama, most notably with the passage of the CHOOSE Act, which empowers parents and empowers microschool leaders to lead innovative, grassroots education strategies.

As I engage with business and industry leaders across the country, a shared enthusiasm for transformative change in education is unmistakable. I think Alabama is ready for disruption. This is not about minor adjustments to the existing curriculum, but about a revolutionary change that will catapult the education of American children to a new level.

However, challenges remain. Large, traditional public schools struggle to innovate quickly due to their enormous size and established systems. Technology is currently changing every week, and if public schools have long curriculum contracts measured in years, our students will quickly fall behind. In fact, they are now behind.

The CHOOSE Act underscores a critical shift, recognizing that homeschools and microschools represent a cost-effective, progressive education model because they require fewer resources than traditional schools. Even the authors of this law provide evidence that homeschooling is the future by stating that these students only need $2,000 per year, while public school students need more than three times that amount.

This insight fueled my initiative to launch a groundbreaking STEM microschool this fall at DiVRgence in Huntsville, where I will train a small group of students using innovative resources and partnerships, potentially expanding the offerings of traditional institutions like The Alabama School of Cyber ​​Technology and the Alabama School of Cyber ​​Technology. Engineering (ASCTE). ASCTE raised millions of dollars to educate approximately 400 students. Their educational content is excellent, but their archaic, top-down business model, requiring millions in capital to open their doors, needs to be questioned.

Our microschool curriculum will be lively and interactive, offering ‘AI Writers Guild’ for English, where students will create novels using ChatGPT, or biology in virtual reality, allowing students to learn hands-on without traditional restrictions. We will also weave the story of American history into digital and physical storytelling media, such as website and podcast development, and embrace innovative math programs like Beast Academy. Furthermore, we have plans to build a walking, talking School MascotBot, in collaboration with students and parents. And because parents are with their children a few days a week through this form of education, they will be more involved in the learning experience and maintaining digital safety. This allows us to safely open up the internet and AI tools to our students, with full-time educated students having to be locked out behind firewalls “for their safety” and for legal reasons.

We aim to replicate this micro-educational model across Alabama’s 94 recreation centers, potentially reaching 96 students at each facility. This approach not only revolutionizes learning, but also fosters a community of creators of both parents and students, moving beyond just consumers of technology. We will potentially serve 9,024 students per year, providing them with practical skills that they can one day transfer to the job market.

The perceived teacher shortage is not an issue within the homeschooling and microschooling communities, where a wave of skilled teachers have left the public system and are still passionate about personally nurturing the next generation. This influx of dedicated teachers allows us to create a truly collaborative and community-oriented educational environment at the grassroots. Our children also learn from doctors, lawyers and engineers. The homeschool and microschool scene has grown, both among students and educated mothers across the state.

“People talk a lot about how microschools benefit families and students, but we often ignore how good microschools are for teachers too,” Tom Bogle writes on the Facebook group: “The Microschool Dream.” “Starting a microschool can be a great way for teachers to reignite their passion for working with students in creative and innovative ways. Starting a microschool gives you an entrepreneurial mindset, which will influence the way you talk to your students as they try to solve problems, experience frustration and failure, or pivot when a project doesn’t go as planned. A microschool founder also has more control over his work schedule, the families he serves, and the conditions of his work environment.”

Those interested in starting their own microschool can join our Facebook group “Alabama Microschool Leaders” and can also attend the “Microschooling 101” event hosted by the National Microschooling Center this summer. Together, we can redefine Alabama’s education landscape and prove that when parents and communities lead from the bottom up, extraordinary things happen.

School choice is about more than just financing. It moves educational decision-making from a school system’s administrator all the way to the student, giving students the opportunity to choose their own supervisors, curriculum, projects and even how much they get done each day. It’s exciting to see children taking the reins and determining their own education. Let’s embrace these challenges as opportunities to create an inspiring future for our children and our state.

Jennifer Wolverton is the CEO of Log Cabin Schoolhouse and author of ALSschoolChoice on FB. To contact the author of this story, email [email protected].

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].

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