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(Opinion) How To Improve Schools With More Democracy

Deborah Meier, probably the leading American writer-educator of her generation, and Emily Gasoi, an experienced teacher working to improve schools nationwide, have written one of the best books ever on the growth of what is called progressive education.

They make a great case for democratically governed schools where teachers make decisions together, with much input from parents and students. It sounds messy, but they note that many successful schools have done it, such as the New York Performance Standards Consortium, the Belmont Zone of Choice in Los Angeles, schools using the New Hampshire Performance Assessment of Competency Education (PACE) and the Mission Hill pilot school in Boston.

“The nitty-gritty of daily decisions should be left to the people who know their particular community and children best — families and educators,” Meier writes in “These Schools Belong to You and Me.”

“While history offers those who know to look for it some insight into the connection between free, universal education and democratic citizenship,” writes Gasoi, co-founder of the nonprofit Artful Education, “it’s entirely possible to go through the better part of two decades of schooling without ever being asked to consider this aspect of our education.”

So why are they so unhappy with some successful schools that have plenty of faculty and parent involvement?