Sunday, March 13, 2011

On school choice

If you will not send your child to a particular school, no one should have to. It's an effective argument, one that gives me pause in the school choice discussion.

Let's extend that argument:

If your child should not go to bed hungry, no one should have to.
If your child should not walk in fear in a dangerous neighborhood, no one should have to.
If your child should not live in a high lead environment, no one should have to.

Our Governor likes to talk of folks "having skin in the game," and he's right, having stake in an issue does hone one's views.

I just wish all of those clamoring to close "failing" schools would work even half as hard  taking care of the children who go to them. Our children become invisible the moment the leave the schoolhouse.


Anonymous said...

I wish the country would not pay a million dollars to keep a premature baby alive, and then send it home to a life of poverty and neglect. It makes no sense.
I have seen 6 year olds who get themselves up and walk themselves to school. Parents are drunk in bed. Social services say the child has not been beaten, so don't intervene. A social worker I know says the worst thing that happened to these kids is that schools started serving breakfast, because parents stopped spending the WIC coupons on cereal and milk.
I don't know what the good answers are, I know I can't take them all in, but the neglect needs to be addressed. I have students (girls) in my high school classes with 2 and 3 babies. The babies are being raised by the grandmothers, who did such a bang-up job with their own kids. Who knows how many babies the boys have? And these are only the ones who still come to school.

Jenny said...

Bravo and Amen.

doyle said...

Dear Anonymous,

That, of course, is the straw man argument. Not saying it doesn't happen, just saying that's not the usual situation.

Look around you. Your arguments give us permission to turn away, and we (mostly) accept them at face value, because we want to look away.

Neglect does need to be discussed, and I will gladly discuss it with anyone who has a fair view of the larger picture.

I worked a long time in the shelters and in the projects. The stories that the comfortable hear are tiny slices of the whole story, a story far more interesting and compelling than the convenient stories we'd rather hear.

If a social worker believes that, then he probably needs to get out of that line of work.

Or maybe you would advocate a modest Swiftian proposal: shall we eat the babies?

Dear Jenny,

Thank you your always kind words.

Anonymous said...

No, we need to continue the support as necessary. Why would you invest a million dollars and then neglect it?
People who buy luxury goods are more likely to lock them up and keep them safe than leave them on the street to be scuffed up by life.
I'm sorry if you thought I meant don't spend the money up front, I meant you have to continue the investment.
By the way, Wiiliams-Sonoma do have a baby cooker. My daughter says that's not what they mean, but I don't know... :-)

doyle said...

I realize that you are playing a bit, but "Why would you invest a million dollars and then neglect it?" sums up our culture succinctly--it's all about the Benjamins for those of us who can afford to eat without thinking about it.

I saw a lot of bad things happen to a lot of children. Right here in New Jersey. Things that coud have been prevented.

One of these days I'll learn how to talk about it. No one believes it anyway.

This Brazen Teacher said...

Doyle, I suspect I will read this blog forever. I usually don't have more in the way of ideas to contribute anymore... just read, sponge it up, and silently leave most times... but I wanted to say thank you. Your voice is in many regards the voice I would like to have one day.


Kathryn J said...

Granted my sample is the children that come to school but more often than not it is a parent holding down a job or two trying to keep the family together. I have had parents weep when they say they can't be there afterschool for their kids but then we get them into a program and it helps. Another mother came into my classroom after a 12 hour overnight shift to observe her son's behavior and support my efforts to get him to engage in his education. Parents in poverty are often fighting as many fronts as they can and often there are just too many or an extremely willful adolescent who refuses support both at home and at school due to the attraction to the street. I do have one or two students with extremely neglectful parents but most of them have caring parents who are struggling.

doyle said...

Dear Brazen,

Thank you for the kind words, but your modesty is showing. You keep working on your tiny piece of the universe, I'll keep working on mine, if millions of us keep doing what needs to be done we'll turn this thing around.

And if we don't, well, we danced with joy in the daylight and slept better at night than those who would betray their ideals.

Dear Kathryn,

Oh, dear, my last words may have been misunderstood.

It's not the parents who are clamoring to close the schools--most of the parents I work with are doing everything they can to raise their children. I meant that the children are invisible to those from outside our neighborhoods who dictate policy.

Kathryn J said...

No I was not clear. My response was to Anonymous and I should have indicated that in my comment. There are bad parents who are wealthy and bad parents who are poor.

I need more sleep - probably a good thing I don't enter the blogosphere as often as I'd like.

doyle said...

Dear Kathryn,

I thought it might be--my goof.

Teaching is a wonderful, but tiring, business; I hope you continue to toss words this direction. =)