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About the Basic School

About the Basic School

New Beginning

For years, America has been working hard to improve the nation's schools. Reform has been high on the public agenda. As a result, academic standards have been raised, teacher certification requirements have been tightened, and educational innovations have been introduced from coast to coast. Without question, progress has been made.

Today, America's best schools are among the most outstanding in the world. Others are succeeding, often under difficult conditions. But it's also true that far too many schools are only marginal at best, and that some, often those in our most troubled neighborhoods, should hardly be called schools.

The world has changed and schools must change, too. The lives of children who enroll in school today will span a new century. If, in the days ahead, educators cannot help students to become literate and well informed, if the coming generation cannot be helped to see beyond the confines of their own lives, the nation's prospects for the future will be dangerously diminished.

Clearly, the push for school renewal needs a new beginning. This time the focus must be on the early years, on elementary education. Every level of learning is important. No sector should be neglected. But school failure starts very early and if all children do not have a good beginning, if they do not receive the support and encouragement they need during the first years of life, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to compensate fully for the failure later on.

Responding to this challenge, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching has proposed a comprehensive plan for elementary schooling called the Basic School, presented in a report entitled The Basic School: A Community for Learning. Following is an introduction to the priorities of the Basic School and answers to most frequently asked questions.

What is a Basic School?
Why is it called "Basic?"
What are the educational priorities of the Basic School?
Does the Basic School have specific educational goals for all students?
How is the Basic School different?
Does the Basic School require more money?
Will Basic School students meet district and state standards?
Can any school become a Basic School?