There is a vision for what should be and could be. Community schools. These are schools that draw families in. They include pre school education and after school care. They offer help to families in need and work together to give children the options best suited for them. They do not divide communities. They build communities where all children feel welcome.
This is a different mindset than the current school choice policy. School choice encourages parents to find schools like them. Communities splinter. Schools become more segregated, and students more isolated from the world in which they live. Students aren’t taught to be good citizens; they are taught, by example to seek advantage for themselves at the expense of everyone else. It’s all about competition. Or is it? See: Public Loss; Private Gain. How School Vouchers Undermine Public Education.
The wealthy pose as benefactors while they reap profits from double dipping tax benefits for their donations to privately run schools. (See May 18 New York Times). This does not make better schools. It makes opportunistic schools.
Our schools have shaped our democracy. They are splintering because our social fabric is splintering. There are those who mine that division for their own benefit. This does not have to happen. We can organize our communities around our schools. We can make our schools serve our needs. It is up to us.
Where do we start? Find out what a community school could be and should be. Read about it here. Look at schools in your community. Ask how they measure up. The Children’s Home Society has started some in Florida. Howard Bishop middle school in Gainesville has started in that direction.
If school choice is about competition, then let’s compete to provide the best and most inclusive educational system.