Only someone in deep denial, or in total thrall to teachers’ union propaganda, believes our inner city public schools are anything more than dropout factories. Yet the comfortable belief that our own suburban public schools are doing fine seems just as misplaced. For a good idea of how misplaced, ask Jeff Sandefer, co-founder, with his wife Laura, of the Acton Academy, an alternative school that is turning teaching upside down.
Jeff’s soft spoken, low-key demeanor belies his considerable accomplishments and burning desire to remake America’s moribund educational institutions. A graduate of Harvard Business School and a multi-millionaire energy investor before turning 30, Jeff has packaged Socratic teaching into a system that can take a one-room schoolhouse full of children of various ages and different abilities and unleash the inner hero and genius in each of them. And he can do this without answering a single question, much less lecture students for hours as they sit passively at their desks.