Saturday, November 05, 2005

Simplicity Itself

Quality education is elusive.  But the reasons for it are not.  In New York City, we dump 34 kids in a class and hire virtually anyone available to teach them.   The Chancellor and the tabloids whine endlessly about awful teachers. Remarkably, there are many good, even great teachers working here.

The bad ones, though, almost defy description.  None would be hired in suburban schools.  Many would not be hired in fast food joints.

But awful teachers are necessary, to give the tabloids fodder.  The chancellor needs scapegoats to cover his overall lack of improvement, and make no mistake—“reform” is not necessarily improvement.  Religiously maintaining the state’s lowest standard for teachers has not brought about improvement.  Having the highest class size in the area has not helped much either.

The mayor and the governor volley the CFE case back and forth, neither willing to make the necessary financial commitment to good teachers or small classes.  Unlike mammoth sport stadiums, they’re too expensive.  They’re not worth it, apparently.  

How could we really improve the school system?

A right-wing school teacher acquaintance of mine has a great idea about this.  Ordinarily, we argue endlessly about everything.  But on schools, oddly enough, we’re almost in perfect harmony.

Require those who administer public schools to patronize them.  How are mayors, or chancellors, going to put their hearts and souls into systems they don’t even take part in?

My kid goes to a public school.  Make their kids go to public schools too, and you’ll see how fast things turn around.  

Do you think Sir Rudy would have suggested compelling welfare recipients to work in public schools if his kids were in attendance?  While he may see chronically out of work individuals as adequate role models for your kids, or mine, do you think he sees them as role models for his kids?

I doubt it.
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