Meandering mutterings and musings about math by a concerned Connecticut parent.
Here is my major concern about school choice. I am a huge proponent of the power of selection pressures on a system. Whether it be biological evolution or computer programming, system constraints force the cream to rise to the top, and it will undoubtedly "work" in schools as well. But regardless of what system you look at, you will find that over time many more "organisms" fail than succeed. Eventually, school choice will leave us with the good schools that we need, but what happens in the short term transition? A staggering number of schools are going to be shut down. That means a legion of children searching for a new school. Even if that good school is reasonably close to them, can that school quickly scale up their successful program to accommodate the influx of children?I worry about the answer to this question. If we choose "choice," we are going to have to come up with a third transitional system or accept the fact that one to two generations of kids are going to fall through the crack.
True, but...generations of children are already falling through the cracks. What do we do about them?
Again, true, but....It's going to be hard to convince the voting parents of those children whose schools will be closed that their children should suffer for the good of the next generation. It's not that I don't agree that there ought to be a drastic solution. I'm just not convinced that this is it. The most important thing that I felt could be gleaned from the expose was how little of the money spent actually trickles down to the classroom. Maybe I'm biased, as a future educator, but if I could change only one thing, it would be to double teachers' average salaries. That's the only way to attract competent visionaries to the game.
That's when choice comes into play. Yes, there will be some schools that don't make the grade but the nature of the beast means that those schools won't survive. In order to stay in "business" schools will study and emulate success. When your very existence is at stake, you become resourceful, you have a drive, and you find solutions (at the speed of light when possible). At least when a school is failing your child and not meeting their needs or your expectations as a parent, you won't be doomed to repeat history the next year. Not if you have choice, anyway. It seems to me that this would not only hold schools (admin and teachers) accountable, but parents as well. Choice makes responsibility the driving force. As a parent you must choose the right environment, monitor that it's working for your child and make changes if it's not. You can only take full responsibility when you have options. Obviously some schools will be better than others but in order to stay in the game, schools will adjust more quickly than they do under the current system in which there is little if any competition. Bottom line: I want schools falling over themselves competing for my "business". The way things currently stand that's not going to be happening anytime soon.
"When your very existence is at stake, you become resourceful, you have a drive, and you find solutions (at the speed of light when possible)."I feel this is a major misconception. Competition doesn't make an organism react any faster to selection pressures. Under competition, the vast majority of organisms will die. Very, very few will be fortunate enough, or in this case "resourceful" enough, to make the requisite changes before it's too late.Competition is the best way to ensure that the "best" member of the group is the "best" possible, but it only works via a huge rate of attrition in the population as a whole.
We need to look more carefully at countries where the money follows the child. It's working. Children are learning, parents have responsibility in the education of their own children and schools are accountable.Even teachers end up with choice. Wouldn't you prefer to work for an employer that was in line with your own teaching philosophy? Wouldn't that make you a more effective (and fulfilled) teacher?I absolutely understand your concerns but that's part of having a vision. You have to see the weaknesses of any plan and do your best to avoid them or lessen the impact. That's leadership and that's what's missing. Yes, there has to be some kind of default system in place. Scaffolding if you will. Children cannot fall from the vine while schools fail to adjust. The problem is so many are withering on the vine now. Nothing is perfect and change can be frightening. But we need change yesterday.
Maybe I'm biased, as a future educator, but if I could change only one thing, it would be to double teachers' average salaries. That's the only way to attract competent visionaries to the game.Absolutely, qualified, inspiring, effective teachers deserve a king's ransom. No question. This is why we need choice. If schools are falling overthemselves to get my "business", they will also fall overthemselves to hire the very best educators out there. Their "customers" will demand nothing less and they'll have to compensate accordingly to make it happen. That translates into greater respect for the teaching profession and by default, compensation to match because teachers will have a choice of where to be employed.
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