"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Friday, March 3, 2017

"I Can Do a Better Job"

When the main issue behind a problem is incompetence, the solution is someone else perhaps can do a better job. Incompetence, although common, is not often at the heart of the major problems society currently faces. It is foolish then that most of the time society confronts a challenge, we simply resort to replacing the person in charge. The cure to most of the ills society currently faces can not really come from a competition for leadership but from a genuine collaboration. We fail to acknowledge the fact that the solutions require all of us and simply replacing the person on top does not really address the problem. We see this often in politics.

Above copied from ABS-CBN News

But we are seeing the same in basic education. The current president of the United States, Donald Trump, and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, are both strongly advocating school choice. Deep in this advocacy is a misguided belief that simply changing the personnel in a school solves problems in basic education. This is grossly misguided because basic education suffers from factors outside the school. A charter school can only be the answer to the problems basic education faces if principals and teachers in public schools are the main causes of problems in basic education.

Fairfax county, where I live, is widely known as a place where charter schools have not sprouted. Jay Mathews of the Washington Post even wrote an article years ago with the title, "Fairfax charter school: An impossible dream?" That dream may actually come true with a bill just waiting to be signed into law.

Above copied from the Washington Post

In Virginia, local school boards currently have the authority to veto charter schools in their communities. The bill waiting for the governor's signature allows the"Virginia Board of Education to create new regional public charter school divisions with the power to approve new charter schools in areas of the state with persistently low educational performance." Charter schools go along the same vein as "I can do a better job". It is a simplistic view that failing schools should be replaced by private schools and that such replacement will solve the problem. It is a misguided hope that in the face of competition or threat of extinction, schools will improve. The problems basic education faces, like any other major societal issues, are far more complex than people not doing a good job.



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