Earlier this week, as many of you have been discussing, Michelle Rhee presented her ideas for improving public education in the United States.
Tonight, two high school debaters had their chance.
In a fancy office building in downtown Oakland, Bay Area Urban Debate League members Kwodwo Moore, 19, and William Hampton, 16, offered their fixes to a small group of elected officials (or representatives), lawyers, and others involved in educational programs.
Moore, a senior at Emery Secondary School, thinks some classrooms should have two fully trained teachers. He says students would take more of an interest in their schoolwork if their schools created more cross-curricular courses. Hampton, who attends Aspire’s California College Prep in Berkeley, proposed removing the A to G high school graduation requirement (in place for his school and this year’s OUSD freshmen) to allow kids to pursue their own career paths, beginning in 11th grade. He also made the case for student evaluations of teachers.
Both teenagers made persuasive arguments, and — as instructed — the other guests asked tough questions, sometimes poking holes in their proposals.
After it was over, I asked Hampton what he thought about education reform. (This year, the experienced debaters have spent most of their time researching space policy.) I half-expected him to say how impossibly complicated it all was, but he didn’t.
“I feel people make it more complex than it actually is,” he said.
Do you agree? (It’s funny; usually I hear people say the opposite of education proposals — that they’re too simplistic.) I plan to write a story about this group next week.