Education Opinion

Who Is Making the Decisions?

By Deborah Meier — February 28, 2007 1 min read

Dear Diane,

Thanks for the opener; the many ways in which those with no background in public education are shaping its future is truly astounding.

I’m sure many of our current “opponents” think democracy is served through privatization and market place incentives (read: money). Others would argue that you and I are making too fine a distinction between public and private. After all private publishers of textbooks and test makers (usually the same) have made loads of money off of public schooling.

I suspect we came to our work with a definition of public that’s different than mayors Bloomberg and Booker. The notion that we can leave it to the whims of individual parental choice—in marketplace fashion—is problematic. Or worse. Good parents are inclined to put their own children’s immediate interests first. I bent over backward when raising my own kids in NYC public schools, but I notice I’m inclined to use strings on behalf of my grandchildren. At what cost?

Who protects those who can’t pull strings or who can’t get into the increasing array of selective admissions schools?

The Senate passed the latest version of Title I (NCLB)—all thousand unread pages—without considering the side effects of their grandiose ideas. Conservatives used to criticize do-good liberals for this. The Mayor of NYC outdoes them by pronouncing equally major reforms—like placing hundreds of them under private management—in a few sketchy words. Who asks who is most hurt by the gutting of the intellectual, aesthetic and moral pursuits of K-12 schooling in the interest of test scores? Who “coulda/woulda” told them beforehand? Have you noticed that those who propose that we burn down the house and build a new one are not those whose children live in either? NYC no longer even has any school board as a check on absolute mayoral power. (If they could just cut the union down to size, they’d feel a lot freer.}

Despite widespread rhetoric requiring teachers to only use Federally approved “scientifically proven” reforms in their classroom, no one requires the Big (mostly) Boys from trying out their unproven ideas on other people’s children. Of course, I believe that “scientifically proven” methods of teaching is also one of those unproven ideas—a claim you and I might disagree about?

So, I’ve opened up a can of worms, Diane.

Best, Deborah

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