In a Changing World, Education Should be Centered on the Individual, not the Building

By Ola Lisowski
MacIver Institute Research Associate

As a lifelong public school attendee who began my education in the Chicago Public School system, I'm not the most obvious choice for a defender of, well, educational choice. Even when I crossed the state border to become a badger or international borders to pursue a graduate degree, I have always attended public schools. 

For my family, they worked. When my sister was ahead in her class, her attentive teachers contacted my parents and let them know their options for advanced programs where she could travel to a local high school to take classes in 7th grade. When I entered pre-kindergarten already having learned how to read, my teachers got in touch with my parents right away to discuss options for moving me up a grade, which I did after a few weeks of attending the 1st grade. 

We were, and are, lucky. Lucky to have watchful teachers and involved parents. Lucky to have some flexibility in an otherwise rigid system, to get us to the more advanced level we needed to avoid the falling grades that would occur when we weren't challenged enough. 

Despite my not so coveted status as a millennial, I'm young enough to remember the different stages of my education quite well. I have spent the majority of my life not just inside a classroom, but being required to be there. In his State of Education speech last week, State Superintendent Tony Evers spent time discussing how much education has changed since his day. If education has changed since my youth, it's imploded and exploded and morphed into something entirely different since his. Hyper-customized à la carte education has arrived.

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