Although California languishes near the bottom of the nation in educational performance, rays of hope are emerging. Two, new charter schools, Da Vinci Science High School and Da Vinci Design School, have launched innovative curriculums focusing on science, engineering, computers, and practical application in the humanities. Students build model roller coasters, design elaborate projects, and write their own children's books. Together, the two new, public charter schools contain 448 students. At this time, the Design School only offers 9th grade and the Science School offers 9th and 10th grades, but each school plans to expand a grade each year. Premier corporations, such as Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Chevron, Boeing, and Belkin have already donated significant sums of money to the upstart schools.
If California is to ever regain its competitive advantage in the educational arena, charter schools like Da Vinci will serve as a potent catalyst. At these schools, education comes alive, and rote knowledge is transferred to practical application in the real world. Students learn to work in teams, hone project management skills, and develop innovative technologies. Teachers demand excellence, and students perform up to expectations.
If California wants to begin competing with the likes of China, India, Brazil, and Japan, it will need to adopt novel strategies to rebuild its sagging scholastic foundation. Schools must develop innovative, robust, and practical curriculums in science, technology, and the humanities. Competition amongst the various public schools, public charter schools, private schools, and homeschool co-ops must be encouraged in order to establish choice, opportunity, and top performance.
The time has come for a whole new model in California education.