Friday, May 16, 2014


An interesting facet of “the option of school choice” came to mind during the Joe Scarborough (MSNBC) show this morning. The guests couched the subjected in the surprising idea that New York State has the “most segregated schools in the nation”. Joe himself jumped in to the conversation with the remark that school boards should always give parents a choice of where to send their children to school. Of course, he had to add that the South is where people falsely accused of being segregationists. Of course, he failed to add that it is the “plantation South” where civil rights movements have focused their attention and now, the fact that it is a northern state that label applies, should be celebrated as a victory for the integration efforts of the federal government. Nevertheless, the question I ask is what is the effect school choice has on those problems that remain for parents.

Parents have the responsibility to educate their children as best they can; some take this more serious than others but I believe that is a universal desire. If parents can send my child to the best school possible, they will pick well-funded schools. The propensity of people not to wanting to pay taxes means introduces some complex gyrations in tax laws but essentially that means the best schools are in areas where the richest people live; areas where the property has the highest values are areas where that taxes are the highest and schools are the best. This has resulted in a parade of students moving from low income areas to high-income areas. Although, the rich neighborhoods have taken many complex moves to prevent this, they have not been able to stop it to their satisfaction. Public schools suffer because they cut state level department of education budgets, then shift the burden to local school boards to pass school bonds, which parents are willing to vote for because the schools in the poorest areas, where they live, are deteriorating. The result is that they are resorting to other means of providing the “best possible schools” for their children at the same time, as they advocate cutting taxes on themselves. Anti-busing, school bonds, charter schools, voucher programs, and privatizing of educations are for examples of changers related to school choice. Still, the schools are funded.

It is mindboggling but when we throw it all up into the wind and look at what falls out, “we judge” our children are not adequately educated. Are we expecting too much of the education system? I do not think so because we are judging education based on comparisons of our children with those from other countries. When we compare our system to the extreme approaches to education of such diverse countries as South Korea, Singapore, Finland, Japan, and China, we see great differences but seem unwilling to adopt one system over another. If we reject the way, we educate children, as being wrong, perhaps it is what we are teaching them is what is wrong. That seems unlikely; fundamentals are fundamentals. When I think about all of this and recognize that parents’ choices in educating children cause huge problems but they still want their children educated. We may all agree we are educating children in the best way possible but agree that we do not want to change the approach. What we are teaching our children is correct, the only thing that seems left to challenge is the amount we are teaching them. If it is not about quality, or the way we are doing, but is isolated to the quantity.

Arne Duncan, United States Secretary of Education and a guest on the Morning Joe Program didn’t even mention it but Common Core, his program, hit the mark and is doing it in an acceptable way. Teachers around the nation should accept the fact that Common Core is the long sought for solution that transcends myriad problems and work as hard as possible to implement it. We the people, a way of saying the government of the United States, have the responsibility of providing support for our teachers to do it. Join me in giving them that support.


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