Saturday, October 8, 2011

Does the Governor love my child?

“I love my child,” a homeschooling mom once said to me. “Does the teacher love my child?” That’s as good an explanation as I have ever heard for homeschooling. It’s also, I think, a good argument for local control over educational policy. The teachers, in my experience, do at least have relationships with the kids and care about them as individuals. Do the school administrators? The superintendent? The Secretary of Education? The Congressperson?

The best way to put power in the hands of the people most likely to treat kids humanely -- that is, parents and teachers -- is to give local communities real control over their schools.

(I didn’t want to let the blog’s second birthday go by without a post. Looks like I just made it under the wire.)


FedUpMom said...

Congrats on reaching the 2-year mark!

Chris said...

Thanks, FedUpMom! It helps to have some company.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the governor of Iowa loves any child, unless it is a fetus.

Julie VanDyke said...

I liked it very much

Julie VanDyke said...

Also, it would be helpful if members of the public (parents & taxpayers) attended the "Town Hall" meeting with the Governor's folks at West High this Sunday at 1:00pm...we should be there asking questions and letting them know what we think of the blueprint etc.

Chris said...

Julie -- I think your first comment got cut off -- what is it you are referring to there?

Thanks for the tip about the Town Hall.

Mandy said...

Here a link to the "Education Blueprint"
Better reading can be found at both of these two links. Too Bad TB and KR haven't read the other two.

Sorry I don't know how to add a clickable line here.

Chris said...

Thanks, Mandy. Here they are as clickable links:

Education Blueprint

Parent relates troubled visits to children’s high-achieving schools

<a href=">Ravitch: Why Finland’s schools are great (by doing what we don’t)</a>

Doris said...

Well, the title of the education blueprint--"One Unshakable Vision"--is definitely pretty ironic if assessed in the context of Chris's meditations on the value of local control and pluralism . . . .

I should admit, though, that I'm actually not necessarily opposed to the promotion of "core knowledge" in the sense that I do find most of the standards currently in place completely devoid of content/meaning. "Reading to learn"? Not so very exciting if you are reading and thinking about Charlotte's Web for the third time in three years. "Critical thinking." I shouldn't even get started on that one . . . !

A greater degree of standardization of content might also benefit students who move around frequently from public school to public school--so that they would have greater continuity in their education. And I think one could feasibly argue that creating some core knowledge standards might possibly help foster democratic debate. But, of course, that would depend in part on whether the core knowledge curriculum itself was created through a democratic process, as well as how it was implemented.

At the same time, I know that some of these pipe dreams I'm spewing out here could easily be shot down, and I do agree with you, Chris, that the entire project of public education is flawed because of the radical disenfranchisement of children. I found absolutely nothing in that blueprint which seemed even remotely concerned with the question of what the children being educated might want to learn or do--at least,not prior to the secondary level.

I'm not as attracted to "unschooling" as you are--it smacks a bit much of Rousseau/Romanticism for me--but I do take your point that educational discourse is problematic in naturalizing the idea that adults should do things to children.

Indeed, the whole Blueprint promotes the worldview that the only way to view public education is through the lens of global economic competition, and that the goal has to be to turn children into workers who can meet the expectations of employers. I think it said that Iowa would pursue a "relentless" focus on education because of the "unrelenting" expectations of their future employers.

The first definition for "relentless" in my dictionary is "harsh" or "pitiless."

I'm not sure the governor loves even fetuses--unless it's the ones destined to become the boss.

Chris said...

And if it's an "unshakable vision," what's the point of soliciting the public's reaction at a Town Hall?

Anonymous said...

I believe the "unshakable vision" part is the idea that Iowans are proud of their educational heritage and that the Governor is trying to change the current generic, average, performance back into something outstanding. And if you don't have a firm vision and goal - you're nothing but mush. But, Hey - he's a Republican, so what does he know?

Chris said...

Having a vision and a goal isn't worth much if it's a bad vision and an undesirable goal. There should be much, much more to school than raising standardized scores.