Public education in the United States is intrinsically a local endeavor. The notion that state and local decision makers should have maximum flexibility in the use of education dollars is rooted in the belief that many of the most useful innovations in education are emerging, and are likely to continue to emerge close to home. Even the No Child Left Behind Act, itself a high-water mark for the federal government’s involvement in education, is constructed around progress, assessments and reforms begun at the state and local levels.
This study recognizes six noteworthy reform ideas which originated from the grassroots of American public education. Each of these reforms presents a locally designed solution to local challenges, and are models worthy of consideration by other communities facing similar challenges. The programs include:
- Chattanooga, Tennessee’s model for rewarding high-performing teachers;
- Florida’s corporate tax credit scholarship program;
- Massachusetts’ reforms to ensure that bilingual education programs have teachers who are themselves fluent in English;
- Arizona’s Rio Salado College’s online teacher preparation program;
- Colorado’s school report cards;
- A Southeast Virginia community program to lower pediatric Ritalin use and optimize treatment for children.
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