(The Center Square) – Nontraditional education models that embrace low-cost private education options should be pushed by legislators, a new policy brief reveals.
Pioneer Institute recently released the report that urges Massachusetts to embrace innovative school models that would push for models that are creative, flexible, and personalized for families.
“Emerging models like microschools, learning pods, hybrid schools and co-learning communities often don’t fit neatly into a regulatory box,” said Kerry McDonald, author of “Why Massachusetts Should Be a Leader in Encouraging Education Entrepreneurship and Innovative K-12 Learning Models.” “And fitting into those boxes could strip them of their innovative characteristics and ability to adapt easily to changing needs of the families they serve.”
According to the brief, the institute is recommending a reduction in childhood care licensing requirements centered on emerging learning models. At the same time, the state should construct “innovation tracks” that would be designed to support innovative school models, widening homeschooling freedoms, and make it easier to launch private schools.
“The states that are attracting entrepreneurs with new learning models are those that have at least begun to introduce some of these recommendations,” Pioneer Director of School Reform Jamie Gass said in a release.
According to the report, the Bay State has seen a bevy of educational innovation but usually spread faster outside the state than in it.
In the report, the institute highlights Wildflower Montessori, which is an independent network of private, teacher-driven microschools, that are situation in easy access places such as shopfronts. The initiative was launched in Cambridge in 2014 and now features 16 such schools. However, there are three times as many of those schools outside the state.
According to the report, the company has been unsuccessful in launching charter public schools in the state.
Another company, according to the release, KaiPod Learning launched last year in Newton. The school features personalization and flexibility, but is rapidly expanding in Arizona and New Hampshire.
“When expanding to new areas, we primarily look for indicators of support for student personalization and parent choice,” KaiPod founder Amar Kumar said in a release. “Sometimes those indicators are regulatory, such as the number of public online schools or the ability for families to homeschool. Other times they’re financial, such as educational savings account programs that allow families to direct their tax dollars towards learning options that might work better for them.”