Monday, December 12, 2011

Choice Causes Anxiety? Puhlease!

Another great response:

Choice Causes Anxiety? Puhlease!

Commentary by coolreformchick, Yesterday, 11:04 AM

I just read a piece in the New York Times by someone who actually writes for a living, and who lives in DC, say that she'd rather have bad neighborhood schools remain open, than have a choice to send her child to a public school that might actually be working. She is angry with people who have run her city and her school system, who had the nerve to "shutter" their failing, poorly enrolled, neighborhood school. And these same leaders even had the audacity to suggest students be provided the options of a new community school to attend (which she didn't like), while at the same time this same journalist says she only considers high quality private or charter schools, but apparently believes the charters perform poorly and rarely close, while the data shows the complete opposite. In fact, DC's charter schools make more and faster gains for all children, retain their students longer, and are boasting higher graduation rates. Those that don't work do close — at a rate of 15% percent, a practice that still rarely happens in traditional public schools, even in this city where she believes officials are school closure crazy.

Why does Natalie Hopkinson want parents consigned to substandard schools, while she herself admittedly enjoys a choice of public OR private education? She has anxiety over making choices, she says. In her own world, white parents have public schools in their neighborhood that work and black parents of whatever means have to exercise choice of schools outside their neighborhoods to find the best fit for their child, as if that's a bad thing. The person who wrote this drivel has most assuredly never stepped foot in the schools outside of her middle class neighborhood to see the notion of having a choice for the first time in their lives must mean for a parent who has been relegated to unconscionably horrendous schools. No, for this DC resident who has choices, the theory and nostalgia of a neighborhood school has been assaulted by parent empowerment. She claims not enough effort, money, or mandates of some sort has left her without a great neighborhood school. Oh, and she lays it at the feet of Republicans who helped spur the idea, without conceding that the Democratically controlled city has not only joined the reform chorus but now leads it in most cities, oh, and in the White House.

No wonder Diane Ravitch tweeted her praise for Hopkinson's editorial today. Indeed in countless tweets and interviews, the author — who says she lives between DC and West Palm Beach — demonstrates no grasp of the real issues here, the real data, nor the hope and promise that choices to students and families, including working and middle-class families who have experienced schools that do not excel, despite the paper that says otherwise, and that are more focused tradition and business-as-usual than personalized, student-centered learning.

That's why families choose, but rather than appreciate what others need, she simply wants a neighborhood school that is open and works. Wish that we all had one, Natalie. In the meantime, most rational people want education to mean something more than a theory for their children. But then, you'd know that if you'd actually talked to a few.

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