It seems like the best new ideas in education, and maybe in other fields, are work-arounds. Charter schools are work-arounds. Non-profits doing interesting things in the schools are work-arounds. They work around a system that is massively heavy and complex, and thus slow to change, and difficult to experiment in. A recent find is Blue Engine, a non-profit working in the New York City School District on college preparation. They use college students, or recent graduates, to create a tiny student-to-teacher ratio and a collaborative environment. Blue Engine seems to be working to create a boutique experience, that can then serve as a model for larger, more complicated systems. This seems like one of the great ways to actually accomplish something in education today. Similarly, I’m learning from our local Portland, Oregon non-profit, The Right Brain Initiative, which is bringing arts-integrated education into local schools in the same way, a non-profit experience meant to add to already existing curriculum. My daughter’s charter school is also doing nice things with the same concept — French language summer camp in which various other non-profits are brought in to teach different parts of the curriculum — soccer, theater. Smart idea!