Back to School

I have been extremely busy lately, not only a University of London student, I was recently hired as a science teacher at a school on the other side of Florida at Manatee School For the Arts (MSA). So I packed up my life and moved. School is starting tomorrow and I am a bit nervous, I have a science background, and am not so concerned about the material. I am very excited to teach for a number of reasons, but I will cover the economics aspect here.  Manatee School For the Arts is a charter school: a school that receives public funds based on number of students, but otherwise has wide discretion in classes, staffing, and student acceptance. A charter school is one of many types of school reforms advocated by a well known economist, Milton Friedman. The video below does a better job summarizing his position than I would:

Parents have to choose for their children to attend a charter school. That means my employer competes with local schools for students; it’s interesting to see how they do this. The school is run on a shoe-string, and was founded out of a closed bowling alley. The boys and girl’s bath room have awfully ugly palm tree tile from the bowling alley. It receives a lower amount of money per student than county run schools. Because of this, they skimp on things like janitorial staff in the lunchroom, copying budget, and having a classroom set of books for each class. In fact, one set of science books I have has the name of a local high school that discarded the books that I will be using in my classroom.

Despite this, MSA has won awards. The number of dance classes alone boggles the mind.  44% of the students meet a standard of economically disadvantaged, but despite this reading and math proficiency is almost double what it is in county schools. Teacher salary is comparable or higher to other places. Also, the school has invested in several different programs besides art to attract student and parent interest. It has a Tae Kwon Do class, a weight lifting class (the machines were donated), and most importantly Go Karts.

I am here to teach the Physics of Motorsports class, using Go Karts to teach kids about Physics. Cue cheesy news segment:

How cool are Go Karts in the classroom? Almost as cool as a freedom of choice in K-12 education.

Jay is studying the Diploma for Graduates in Economics by distance learning with the University of London International Programmes. He lives in Florida, USA.

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