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Why America's Best School Doesn't Exist

Blend Images Photography/Veer

All the teachers at Freedom 7 Elementary School in Cocoa Beach, FL, have large, oblong heads and big Cheshire-cat smiles that occupy the majority of their large, oblong heads. At least that's how they are portrayed in the student-drawn portraits that tile the school's administrative office.

The office door opens. “OK, you all can follow me,” says a woman with a walkie-talkie. (Not smiling; typical cranial shape.) She's taking a gaggle of parents on a tour. We stroll down Creativity Court (all of the school's walkways have names like this), and pop in and out of classrooms. Piles of nails, screws, pennies, and keys sit on the counter of the science laboratory. Inside the library, a poster of a Magic Marker-ed snake reads “Got Ssss-shots?” (The students have been learning about poverty and disease.) The playground is on the corner of Appreciation Avenue and Integrity Boulevard.

This is what one of the best elementary schools in America looks like. In its state assessments, Freedom 7 performed better than 99.8 percent of Florida's elementary schools.Neighborhoodscout.com, a research and data website that ranks schools based on national and state-specific test scores, reports that Freedom 7 is the best public elementary school in the South. Moms and dads are required to volunteer 20 hours every year, or their child isn't reenrolled. Because of its reputation, the school receives parent inquiries from as far as Mexico and South America.

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