Saturday, February 28, 2009

Education, Powered by the Wind

In the field of education, we talk a lot about sustainability. Education reforms blow in, carrying with them start-up funds and motivated proponents. Teachers, however, have seen so many reforms come and go that they often do the minimum of what's expected of them and wait for the new fad to pass.

This is pretty sad, as the good reforms may fail along with the silly. One Texas school district was looking for ways to sustain the changes made by their Reading First grant, which came as a part of No Child Left Behind. To those who bought into the changes, the five-year grant provided support for changes in the way reading was instructed across the nation. Knowing that it was only five years, the folks at Shallowater ISD began looking for ways to fund its continuation.

The answer: Wind power!

They decided to build wind turbines to help power their school. This saved on fuel costs for them, helped save the earth for everybody, and created opportunities for students to learn about alternative energy. All in all, that's a pretty great example of sustainability.

Of course, not everyone is happy about this. Some are complaining about the noise created by the turbines (there's a whole website devoted to problems with wind power; chief among them seems to be noise. Noise, however, seems to be a fair trade for not destroying the earth. People have been living near airports and train tracks for decades and seem to be all right).

Many of the schools Reading First works with have been bemoaning the end of the grant, saying that they wish it could stick around. They like the support and see their kids growing (contrary to reports, most states are seeing amazing growth. In Texas, Reading First schools are seeing a) faster growth in achievement compared to non-Reading First schools, particularly among students who are usually "left behind", like Special Ed students and English language learners; and b) they aren't just growing faster, but have now surpassed their non-Reading First compatriots). Shallowater ISD is an inspiration because they didn't just hope that the federal government would continue to fund them. They did something about it.

1 comment:

Neave said...

I love this story, Catlin!