So have you ever read something on the web that just riles you up so you slam out a rebuttal comment (or two). But even after you say whatever, this is bs and I'm not thinking about it anymore, you just keep on fuming and posting and fuming?
That's what happened to me yesterday over here. After posting 4 times and really not getting my point across as far as I can tell, I'm resolved not to say anything more. But I'm still fuming, so I think I'll post on my own blog.
Here's the quote that was posted, in case you didn't follow the link above. It's from Diane Ravitch's Book "The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education":
“Do we need neighborhood public schools? I believe we do. The neighborhood school is a place where parents meet to share concerns about their children and the place where they learn the practice of democracy. They create a sense of community among strangers. As we lose neighborhood schools, we lose the one local institution where people congregate and mobilize to solve local problems, where individuals learn to speak up and debate and engage in democratic give-and-take with their neighbors. For more than a century, they have been an essential element of our democratic institutions. We abandon them at our peril.
Business leaders like the idea of turning the schools into a marketplace where the consumer is king. But the problem with the marketplace is that it dissolves communities and replaces them with consumers. Going to school is not the same as going shopping. Parents should not be burdened with locating a suitable school for their child. They should be able to take their child to the neighborhood public school as a matter of course and expect that it has well-educated teachers and a sound educational program.”
Look, I'm all for stronger neighborhoods and better schools. I think a sense of community with everyone is totally critical to raising kids. And by everyone I mean the kids that are "at risk" with sucky parents as well as the super-smart nerds with overly driven parents. That's one of the issues I have with homeschooling. We might not be in our neighborhood school, but economic and social diversity is real in every City School my kids have gone to. Way more than if we had moved to Timonium to solve our school problems with our zoned school.
But really, what planet is this woman from? She's supposed to be an expert in urban schools and she's thinking about democracy in broken neighborhoods, to say nothing of broken schools? There's no democracy in a place where people are afraid to talk to the police even after they see a kid abused by their parents or shot by a rival gang.
There are some neighborhoods in Baltimore where her prattle rings true (I'm thinking Roland Park and Mt. Washington), but those schools are in fine shape so choice and zoning aren't the issue there. Really, the vast majority of kids in Baltimore need an escape from the same-old-same-old of the established social order of their streets, which just carries on in failing neighborhood schools. Democracy? This stratifying social order is more like bondage as far as I can tell.
But really, there's just one sentence from this quote that I want to scream at, and yell at ,and banish from existence - "Parents should not be burdened with locating a suitable school for their child." Really? Parents shouldn't be burdened by the responsibility their kids force on them? Really? That's the whole big deal about being a parent. All of the sudden you need to become responsible. Do some parents fail? Yes; almost all to some degree and it's tragic, but you are responsible. The state can support you, the schools can help you, your community can pitch in, but kids are a burden (and a joy) that you have to handle. Look into schools, figure out who their friends are, make rules that they hate, go to PTA and teacher conferences. It's what makes you a parent.
I'm shaking my head in disgust. This is the expert that fights to save our schools. Really? Baltimore is making progress and these platitudes make people who have no experience in the reality of City Schools think they know the real answer. Really? Please.