President Obama heaped praise of The MET School in Providence, R.I. and its Big Picture Learning initiative today, in his Grad Nation speech. He singled out the Met Center as an institution that offers the kind of individual instruction to students that is necessary in order to effectively target the drop out crisis in the United States.
“That’s why we’ll follow the example of places like the Met Center in Rhode Island that give students that individual attention, while also preparing them through real-world, hands-on training the possibility of succeeding in a career."The irony of the presidential MET endorsement lies in the fact that the school is the anti-model for current administration policies and programs. The MET is a small-by-design school with a curriculum based on student interest. Its educators shun standardized testing in favor of performance-based assessments and the whole idea of tying teachers' (called advisors at The MET) to student test scores would be anathema to the whole MET approach.
Adding to the irony is the fact that both of Chicago's Big Picture schools were ordered closed by then Chicago schools CEO Arne Duncan as part of his Renaissance 2010 school closing crusade. It seems they were "too small," wanted too much autonomy, and their test scores weren't high enough.