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NEPC Review: Some Assembly Required: How a More Flexible Learning Ecosystem Can Better Serve All Kids and Unlock Innovation (Bellwether, August 2022)

A report from Bellwether details what the authors call, “assembly-based education,” a hypothetical ecosystem that removes schools as a central education component. Instead, the plan proposes giving families the ability and funding to choose among varied learning opportunities. The approach is presented as helping to remove some barriers for lower-income families and to facilitate new communities based on shared interests rather than geography. The report also argues that the approach is timely and practical, pointing to the recent growth of school choice and supplemental learning. The concept, however, undermines societal investment in neighborhood schools and therefore runs counter to research demonstrating that many families, youth, and communities work hard to protect and improve their neighborhood schools, especially in marginalized communities. As such, this approach fails to genuinely center equity and educational excellence and instead elevates choice as the greatest good in an education system.

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