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.