Mike McShane thinks education reformers care too much about bad schools.
Having visited some truly bad schools in my day--including a few places where it took incredible force of will not to grab the children and run screaming from the building--I have to disagree. When children are involved, and when public funding is at stake, we--both society as a whole and the government entities that oversee school funding--there is a level of quality and performance below which is it just unacceptable to allow a child to remain in a school. Period. Our moral obligations as adults demand this.The schools that fit this criteria are relatively small in number but the fact that our educational system has allowed some of them to persist in their abysmal state for years and even decades is one of the great moral tragedies of our great nation.
Ending the existence of such schools should be a priority if for no other reason than that once we do so we’re forced to confront the much more challenging and complex task of how to respond to the quality and performance of the much larger population of schools that are simply subpar to mediocre--and have been getting a pass, particularly in many choice-based systems, in large part because the continued existence of some truly abysmal schools has lowered the bar for what parents and communities expect of schools in many historically underserved urban areas.
The opinions expressed in Sara Mead’s Policy Notebook are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.