"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

"School Choice" is Aptly Named.

We welcome Scott Kerr as a guest commenter:

Born and raised in South Louisiana. Proud father of one daughter. Owned several companies that are now closed due to technological advances. Self employed in new ventures.

His comment caught my attention on an educational thread:

Public school issues go deep. NCLB was a failed attempt at increasing literacy and societal preparedness. It was a prime example of government's inability to correctly solve problems. It ignored the core issues of correctly educating children in public schools and, in essence, forced graduation upon students. It's purpose was solely to have statistics that made the public school system look better. It took the priorities of educating our youth away from good teachers and schools and replaced them with assembly line graduation rates.

The voucher system will be another failure. The end result of that will be more government regulation into private schools which in turn will make them resemble the failing public school system. The long term results of such programs are obvious.

The distinction between education in this country and other countries is simple. We are concerned with looking good and they are concerned with being good. The desire to look good encouraged all the corruption we witness in schools today and merit based pay slammed the point home. It's message to teachers, both good and bad : Graduate students with high test scores because your pay depends on it. Americans used to say, " We're # 1". Now they say, " I'm #1". If America continues down the path of looking out for #1 instead of the country and its future, we are destined to crumble.

NCLB has been described by both conservatives and liberals as being flawed. Its goal by 2014 was that 100% of students would be proficient. That goal was and is unattainable. Students aren't treated as individuals any longer, they are divided into subgroups and tested and taught to those labels. Educators and those interested in education have been calling for alternatives to NCLB for years. What is the answer? Arne Duncan's reauthorization of ESEA has been described as "NCLB on steroids".

So we have even more standardized testing and mandates and now let's throw in "school choice". It's aptly named, I'll give it that. You can choose your child's school, but you can't choose the type of education your child receives. That's left up to a consortia of states...not YOUR state or local district...no, no. Missouri's consortia is based in Washington state. It's no wonder it's labeled school choice and not educational choice. There is a huge difference, isn't there?

Administrators in true private education of choice have the capacity to deliver the type of education to their students as they deem fit. The parents are paying them for their decision making abilities to provide an excellent education for their children. If the parent does not like the education provided, they will take their child out and place them elsewhere. They will find the education most appropriate to their child. The private schools are autonomous and so can alter their educational goals, curriculum, teaching, etc to do what's best for the child. That's true private education and choice.

All the talk about providing a great public education under the guise of public "school choice" should be examined for what it is: it is the same educational blueprint in a different location. It's not like private school. The mandates are the same from charter school to traditional public school to virtual school. The administration does not have the authority to amend curriculum or teaching methods to reach kids who are struggling or those who are bored. They have to stick to that common core.

What do YOU think about education reforms? What really constitutes "choice"? Is it just a choice on where to send your child...not the education plan behind the choice...but just the building? Private and home schooling parents now make the educational choice for their children with little governmental involvement. That ability does not and will not exist under the current school choice reforms with the implementation of common core standards.

If Scott's contention is true and governmental vouchers demand governmental educational mandates, what choice does that constitute: solely the physical location of the school?
And that's the "reform" that will fundamentally change the face of public education?

Thanks to Scott for his comments and thoughts. We welcome yours as well.

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