Theodore R. Sizer: The Coalition of Essential Schools
This article gives an overview of the views of Theodore R. Sizer, the Chairman of the Coalition of Essential Schools. Local circumstances and local cultures, according to this article, play a significant role in creating lasting school reform in secondary education. This article indicates that integrating a student's cultural background and developmental level into her education allows educators to determine how best to help that student use her talents. The Coalition of Essential Schools, according to the article, seeks to find ways to help educators tailor the needs of each individual student, in order to help all students learn at an optimal level. Sizer advocates the grassroots approach to secondary school reform. The Coalition of Essential Schools' approach involves not imposing structures, curriculum, materials, and assessment upon a school or district, because the needs of one school district can vary greatly from those of a different school district. For example, the needs of rural New Mexico are different than those of a high school in New York. The article states that a longitudinal study of the Central Park East schools in New York City followed graduates into their mid-20s who graduated from Coalition schools. Sizer explains that when comparing these students, who were low income and of color, with their peers in other schools, the majority of the Coalition graduates went to college and graduated. Sizer feels that the Coalition of Essential Schools program can help low-income students achieve success.