Monday, February 25, 2008

Release My Child!

Blogger Dana Goldstein (in San Fran) argues that if parents from the 'burbs are given great options to place their children in diversified public academic environments in, even in economically challenged urban neighborhoods, that they would place their children there (The Progressive Case for Public School Choice). While Cal Linear, also of San Fran, argues she missing the point. He claims no parent from the 'burbs would do so~that's why they paid more money to live in the suburbs where schools tend to have decent resources and schools.

I would argue they are BOTH missing the point. We have examples of exceptional urban schools that accelerate minority children from low-income homes, inspite of all the disadvantages that these children bring to school with them on a daily basis~take Chicago, for example. Many parents, given choice, would prefer to keep their kids in their own zip code. What they would prefer is a voice and a choice in those shcools. The situation now is that the main voice in schools is that of school boards, superintendants who answer to them, unions, etc. The missing voice is that of the parents and the teachers~the teachers, BTW are kept busy filling out forms and 'teaching to the test', thanks to the legacy of 'No Child Left Behind'.

But even a school in the suburbs, that may be considered a great, school cannot be expected to serve each and every single child that happens to live a certain zip code~some children simply have very specific needs. For this reason, the MOST IMPORTANT reason, children should be allowed to attend a school sought out by that child's parents~regardless of the zip code. These families should NOT being moving from one community to another just to educate ONE child under their roof. Broad reform is called for~I'm talking tuition tax credits, like what is being debated right now in Missouri legilature, virtual schooling, open enrollment, charter schools, home~schooling~options that Missourians are seeking to support what they consider to be in the best interest of their individual child.

The people leading the public education system in Missouri seem to think they know what is best for the children that they see listed on their spreadsheets or in their files. They argue that parents don't know what options are out there and there are plenty. Yet we hear, if we listen, parents crying out that their child would be best served elsewhere or are not being best served in their shcool and they dismiss that parent and say, 'Oh, but we CAN serve them.' Or they say 'If that child leaves our school, we will lose money!"

The way I see it, is if a child is not served and the school cannot step up, they should release the child. As that child that leaves, they also take with them the burden and expense that the school couldn't manage to begin with. And if a school fails to produce, let it close and let another step up to replace it or allow the parents to choose another school that CAN serve their child.

At the end of the day, the argument that public education reform is necessary is painfully obvious to me.

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