Hats off to the Austin Independent School District for taking innovative steps to improve public education. The district is re-structuring their schools to provide more choices for student needs — including the option for all-boy and all-girl classes and re-vamped middle schools.

Creativity and market forces always improves outcomes. By designing new types of schools in innovative combinations, the likelihood of finding the right school for each child raises exponentially.

And nothing is lost here. The first Austin middle school to get this burst of creative reform was listed as academically unacceptable back in 2006, but the kids are showing marked improvement. Check out the Austin American Statesman profile.

While single-gender classes and “flexible” schedule middle schools may not work everywhere for everyone, that’s the beauty of the project — finding what works, where. Today we have too many cookie-cutter schools trying to squeeze teachers, kids, parents and taxpayers into the same mold. And we wonder why so many kids are failing, and teachers are fleeing.

Whether these specific programs will work — and they seem to be right now — is beside the point; that AISD is trying something outside the status quo, public-ed bureaucratic norm should be encouraged. Not only in Austin, but elsewhere.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, and a dog. Check out his podcast, Reflections on Life and Liberty.

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