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College Prep Program a "Quiet" Revolution

Mary Catherine Swanson has spent a career selling the idea that nearly everyone can go to college, and business is booming. She started 25 years ago in her classroom at Clairemont High School with 32 customers -- her freshman English class.
Mary Catherine Swanson has spent a career selling the idea that nearly everyone can go to college, and business is booming. She started 25 years ago in her classroom at Clairemont High School with 32 customers -- her freshman English class.

Swanson founded the college prep program Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, on a counterintuitive hunch. Instead of trying to prevent struggling students from dropping out by giving them repeated doses of basic skills, Swanson proposed putting them into tough courses and giving them extra help to pass the classes. In essence, Swanson argued that schools should be playing to win instead of not to lose.

Part of the appeal of Swanson's quiet revolution is that it is led by a teacher.
 
"It's more unusual for it to come out of a classroom and from a classroom teacher," said Gene Maeroff, a senior fellow at Columbia University Teachers College and an author of several education books. "Innovations are more likely to come imposed from above by policy-makers and administrators."

This article, written by Chris Moran and Peggy Peattie, appeared in the December 5th publication of the San Diego Union Tribune.

Published Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2005

College Prep Program a "Quiet" Revolution

Mary Catherine Swanson has spent a career selling the idea that nearly everyone can go to college, and business is booming. She started 25 years ago in her classroom at Clairemont High School with 32 customers -- her freshman English class.

Swanson founded the college prep program Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, on a counterintuitive hunch. Instead of trying to prevent struggling students from dropping out by giving them repeated doses of basic skills, Swanson proposed putting them into tough courses and giving them extra help to pass the classes. In essence, Swanson argued that schools should be playing to win instead of not to lose.

Part of the appeal of Swanson's quiet revolution is that it is led by a teacher.
 
"It's more unusual for it to come out of a classroom and from a classroom teacher," said Gene Maeroff, a senior fellow at Columbia University Teachers College and an author of several education books. "Innovations are more likely to come imposed from above by policy-makers and administrators."

This article, written by Chris Moran and Peggy Peattie, appeared in the December 5th publication of the San Diego Union Tribune.

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