Mesa (Ariz.) 'Basics' Schools Offer Traditional Low-tech Learning

ANGELA PASCOPELLA's picture
Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mesa Public Schools sixth-grader Blain Swallow has a very basic word to describe his "basics" education at Franklin Northeast Elementary: "Hard."

Blain and other sixth-graders at Mesa's Franklin traditional schools are already doing the work of junior-high students. The schools push kindergarteners to master first-grade reading, writing and math -- then stay at least a year ahead academically after that.

"You have to be disciplined to go here," said Blain, who is 12 and Franklin Northeast's student-body president. He said he typically takes home an hour and a half of homework each night.

For more than a quarter-century, Mesa's Franklin schools have been teaching kids to read and write in a manner similar to the way the children's great-grandparents learned.

Students sit in straight rows facing a teacher and a chalkboard. There are no small group projects or reading circles. Classroom computers don't materialize until after the sixth grade.

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