The program focus of the Louis Calder Foundation is education reform. We support academic programs throughout the country that offer families alternatives to under-performing public schools. We believe that charter and parochial schools have produced meaningful results over time by emphasizing academic achievement as their primary focus and utilizing a content-rich, traditional liberal arts curriculum. We believe that a quality education depends on 1) what is taught, 2) how it is taught, and 3) when it is taught, and that these alternative school models understand how all three requirements intersect in research and in practice.
What is taught
We believe that a quality education builds upon a uniform base of knowledge, a common curriculum that provides a rich and relevant context for learning and skill acquisition. A traditional liberal arts education offers a bond of common knowledge to students who graduate as culturally literate, college-ready individuals.
How it is taught
We support CMOs and parochial schools that establish rigorous standards of academic achievement, allocate more classroom hours, and promote social values, student outcomes, and character development. Improving teacher performance is also critical as schools need exceptional teachers who have mastered curriculum content and can illustrate by example that character strengths such as leadership, commitment, and perseverance are major predictors of success.
When it is taught
Research shows that children learn best when content is delivered in a coherent sequence where knowledge builds comprehensively as children advance by grade. An age-appropriate curriculum, rich in language and literature, history, science, and geography, maximizes learning, knowledge retention, and the development of strong reasoning skills.
Our mission is to support high-performing alternate education models in anticipation that their successful strategies will become common practice in all schools.