COEUR d'ALENE - "Knowledge builds on knowledge."
That is one of the mottos of the Core Knowledge Foundation, a nonprofit organization offering a copyrighted teaching method that has caught the attention of school officials in Coeur d'Alene.
Superintendent Hazel Bauman said during Tuesday's school board meeting that the district is considering the Core Knowledge program as the focus for another magnet school to possibly put in place at Borah Elementary.
"As you know, Borah is a great school with a challenging demographic," Bauman said.
Bauman said there are many families living in poverty in the Borah neighborhood, homes where access to educational opportunities outside of school, like trips to museums, cable television's educational channels and books, are often limited.
Borah Principal Sharon Hanson said she and teachers at the school have just begun looking at what the Core Knowledge program would bring to their students.
"We think it sounds, initially, like it might be a good fit for our kids," Hanson said. "We're in the stage where we just want to know more."
E.D. Hirsch Jr., a former professor at the University of Virginia, developed the Core Knowledge concept, based on his belief that learning depends on a broad base of knowledge, or "cultural literacy." The Virginia-based Core Knowledge Foundation was formed in 1986.
Parents visiting the Core Knowledge website, coreknowledge.org, will read that the teaching method: "provides a carefully sequenced set of skills and content with an emphasis on the knowledge that is most useful and productive for children living in American society today."
"It would be a lens through which curriculum is taught," Bauman said.
The district has several other elementary magnet schools that use unique teaching methods to deliver the curriculums required by the state. Ramsey Elementary uses a science-based curriculum framework; Sorensen is a magnet school for the arts and humanities; and Hayden Meadows is in its last year as a Primary Years Programme school, a copyrighted teaching method offered by the International Baccalaureate Organization. The school board voted last year to discontinue the use of the IBO's programs in district schools.
Bauman said for any program to be successful at a school, it's best if "the growth of the program is somewhat organic."
"The first step is to see if there is interest in this," Bauman said.
The push to consider Core Knowledge in Coeur d'Alene schools came from Brent Regan, the district's newest trustee.
He suggested Tuesday that they encourage teachers throughout the district and beyond, who are familiar with Core Knowledge, to come together to brainstorm.
Regan said he agreed it's important that the decision whether to put the program in place at Borah be based on whether teachers like the program and want to use it.
"With all programs like this there are associated costs," Bauman said.
School officials do not yet know how much the district will have to pay for the program, but Bauman said there will be teacher training costs involved and likely a subscription fee.
Core Knowledge's 2011 Annual Report claims there are more than 1,000 schools in the United States that use all or part of the Core Knowledge system.
There are no Core Knowledge schools in Idaho at this time.
The trustees will meet for a board workshop about the program on Feb. 19.