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Ed Webb

SpeEdChange: The Parent Trap - 6 views

  • The third group is more difficult to discuss, and I don't want to dismiss or demean, but I think of them as "the colonized." These are people from traditionally out-of-power groups who have decided to fully "play the game" of their oppressors. They tend to wear the charter school ideology around their necks the way certain Nigerians and Indians and other "citizens of the Empire" in the early 20th Century donned British powdered wigs and joined the colonial governments. It is tough to argue with much of what they say: They are looking to "save kids now." To open "real opportunities." To build "within the realities we have." And to argue with this is to engage in that oldest of battles among the colonized - do we achieve freedom and power on "their" terms, or "ours." Do we want our children to grow up as -and this will depend on the argument you are making - Brits and citizens of the world/Second-class Brits or to grow up as Nigerians, Indians, South Africans, Irish, Israelis/poor separatists in a global economy. As with most great issues, the answers are not clear cut, not "black and white," as they say. We want our identities, we want freedom and possibility based in our culture, and yet, yes, we also live and work in a world designed and controlled by the powerful. So when people like @dropoutnation argue for charters and vouchers as their "answer," it is not just a matter of being co-opted. They have convinced themselves that this is the only logical solution in the world they see now. And I can argue for greater faith in the future, for greater faith in diverse communities, but altering someone's fundamental world view is tough.
  • The common characteristics that I find in what I describe as "the best schools" (see primary and secondary), that is, schools which "work" for the broadest range of students, is student choice. These are schools which help students discover their path, not their parents' path. These are schools which are willing to help students find success even if their parents are incapable, or destructive, or just uninterested. Parent choice - the concept of charters and vouchers - is socially reproductive from the start.
  • great public schools have student choice. No two classes in the same grade or subject should be anything alike. No common reading lists or classroom management. No common grading system. No common organization. Ideally, even schedules should vary. Only with that kind of choice can students find what they need, not what even the most well-meaning adults find for them. And great public schools are being made impossible by "choice" advocates, who pull a certain segment of students out of the mix, reducing workable choices for those left behind. I'm a parent, and I like parents. But I've also known all kinds of parents, and I value children too much to leave all the decisions in parental hands.
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