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View Diary: “I Don’t Believe That”: Reforming the Debate to Reform Education (25 comments)

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  •  depends on purpose (0+ / 0-)

    IF the purpose of choice is to reform the system (increase academic quality of schools), then the reasons for choice and the participation levels do matter; that is my point

    •  Yeah, I don't really accept that premise (0+ / 0-)

      Public schools should respond to the public. If the public wants to have more choice as to where they are able to send their kids to school, then we should provide it.

      That said, I do think that competition generally improves quality and innovation, and monopolies retard those things. Traditional public schools have operated as monopolies in many cases; if you lacked the funds for private school, then that's where you had to send your kids, even if the school was entirely dysfunctional.

      There's also the question of experimentation. Charter schools for example are often established under alternative pedagogical theories. Over time, it will be interesting to see if any of the more fringey sort of ideas in education actually turn out to be winners. Maybe it's a problem that some kids will have been guinea pigs in failed experiments, but overall, it should improve the situation.

      Again, though bottom line for me is that parents want the choice. Give it to them.

      •  Idealizing competition and charters (0+ / 0-)

        First, the evidence on competition goes against the "belief" we have in it as a culture; I recommend:

        Competition tends to do more harm than good in almost all cases, but especially in the pursuit of education for all. It is the mechanism of Social Darwinism, not social justice.

        At one point, charter schooling was an adventure in public school experimentation, but no more. The term has been co-opted by corporate interests.

        And we don't need any different mechanism to experiment because teaching IS experimentation; every year each teacher sits before NEW students and that year becomes an experiment.

        Until we set aside our cultural blinders that make us believe in competition and choice in ways that don't match what the evidence shows, we'll continue to fail democracy.

        •  Oh come on (0+ / 0-)

          "Co-opted by corporate interests?" You're talking to someone who has personally worked with incredibly committed community-based nonprofit organizations to start charter schools. There's nothing "corporate" about any of the charters that I've helped start; it's just people at the grassroots level who care about their community and the education of the youth.

          By way of example, I helped Alice Callaghan, a former nun who runs a group that works with the poorest of the poor, residents of LA's Skid Row, start two charter schools for Skid Row children.

          And the idea that experimentation begins and ends in the classroom seems false on its face. If that were the case, we wouldn't have schools for gifted kids, magnets, schools for the arts, schools for science and math, military-style schools, "small" schools, schools that emphasize parental involvement, and on and on, before you ever even get to charter schools. In fact, I imagine that entire programs in schools of education would be eliminated in so far as they didn't directly involve the classroom experience.

          And we're not talking about competition and cooperation as if they were mutually exclusive. If the parents, teachers and administrators at a given school do not cooperate well with each other, their school will not be competitive with other schools where they do. Of course we cooperate, but there's always a level of cooperation in order to compete in the bigger picture. Even if every human being on Earth saw themselves as cooperating with every other human being, we would still be in competition with other forms of life for scarce resources.

          And the concrete facts are that competition has been good for public schools, at least in so far as it relates to charters. If charters were so destructive to public education, you would think that LAUSD would be faring worse than any other district in the country, because we have the most, both in terms of raw numbers and probably in terms of per capita as well. But LAUSD is a district with generally improving test scores, building community support (at least as expressed in ballot initiatives), etc.

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