The internet is a marvellous invention for educators, since it empowers readers linked to it to compare practices and structures established around the world with those available in their local communities. In the case of American educators and families, the results can be humbling. Those who read comparative education, as I have done, arguably obsessively, quickly come to realize what poor value the American people have been receiving from the traditional system established in this country, in particular from its almost indefensible high schools.
I just read a story in today's Sacramento Bee about parents in the western area of that city wanting alternatives to their established local district alternatives. Such a desire is justified. Even in Irvine, better reputed in education than most communities in California, I have found our local high schools wanting. The alternative I advocate is a lyceum, a generally European model of upper secondary school that should be adapted to fit our American context. My current vision for an international lyceum model (which has been long evolving) to be introduced to the United States would have private secondary school pupils accelerate, after six years of state-governed primary education, in middle schools (which should be chartered, as true alternatives to the state middle schools that are already similarly obsessed with all those children who have fallen behind) managed like those in east Asia so as to prepare for private lyceum admission exams: such practices give teens real incentives to study, unlike the customs in the United States, which are to give children so many chances that the opportunities on offer are generally spurned by young people grown overly comfortable in their inherited prosperity. Those succeeding on such admission exams (likely the top half or so of scorers, which is the proportion accepted in the high achieving Finnish system, which includes such lyceum admission conditions) will have a plausible likelihood of preparing, in the three years of the lyceum's upper secondary education, to matriculate into university colleges with three-year bachelor's degree programmes, thus netting families investing in a top lyceum's education approximately $130,000, which accounts for both the approximately $50,000 price a fourth year of top university college education would have cost the families of such "seniors" and the approximately $80,000 such graduates can expect to make in that 22nd year of their lives.