The plan is a big departure from the current, hands-off approach to schooling that Rocky has made. (Who by the way, realizes his 15 minutes of fame are up and is toying with running again...gag me with a spoon) Here are some of the ideas I like the best:
- Second-Language Proficiency: "by the time every Salt Lake City student is 18 years old, he or she will be able to pass a basic proficiency exam in a second language." This includes not just Sudanese refugees and Mexican kids, but white kids named Jensen. What better way to get a talented workforce ready for a globalized economy than having them proficient in another language? And by the way, it would make missionary language training much easier if one is called to serve in a country that speaks the language you learned in high school. I hope this will mean that not only will the next generation of Utahns know how to speak a language like Spanish, but also languages like Mandarin or Japanese.
- Expanding Excellence in Education ("E3"): E-cubed is based on the idea that schools should not be limited to the knowledge and materials found inside their buildings. Rather, students would be encouraged to participate in "extracurricular learning opportunities" in the form of formal and informal programs with local companies, museums, researchers, etc. The real world is coming soon to a high schooler near you. They need to learn what it will take to make it in the real world without mom and dad's assistance. Maybe one of these programs will inspire a student to go to medical school, architecture school, start a business, become an artist, or dissuade them that working as a mechanic is really going to be great.
- Public-Private Partnerships: "the city will build partnerships with local businesses to help provide opportunities for our children to learn and excel" through grants of money/equipment, as well as employees volunteering. Imagine people who work out at the refinery teaching kids chemistry.
There are several others, like appointing a senior staffer to be the "Ed Czar," monthly meetings with principals and the mayor, city employee engagement, but those are less "sexy" than the other plans in my view.
Anyway, feel free to talk about the merits of these ideas or suggest your own, I am sure Ralph would love to hear them. And it seems his staff read my blog.