The Past, Present and Future
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SOLUTION NO. 9 Public schools should be controlled by elected school boards or by boards in large cities appointed for a set term by more than one elected official.Ravitch ends the chapter that talks about this solution with the following sentences:
Because public schools need the support of the public that funds them, they should have the widest possible community support. Community support means democratic governance. School districts should be governed by those who are willing to work diligently to improve them and by those who have the greatest stake in the success of the children and the community.As noted by Poblador, the above principle is an ideal, but it faces serious obstacles given the current predicament of Philippine politics. Poblador writes:
BESRA will be strongly resisted by the System, and is doomed to failure. Here’s why: It will be strongly resisted by entrenched elements in the bureaucracy and by elements outside the system whose interests firmly lie on the status quo. Implementing a change of such magnitude will jeopardize sinecures and endanger personal (i.e., financial) interests. Effective implementation will require empowering lower-level administrators and stakeholders within the community. While decentralization has many advantages, its downsides are easily overlooked. For one thing, it will exacerbate parochialism and turfism which carry the danger that local issues and concerns will take precedence over the larger interests of society and of the community. Successful implementation requires extensive networking arrangements and joint, multi-sectoral decision making. In the past, consortium arrangements and other forms of collaboration and team effort have failed.What should not be lost in the above argument is the fact that opposition to a decentralization of education really has nothing to do with any harm decentralization can do to the learning of children. The arguments are really about communities in the Philippines not having what it takes to run a school. The arguments are about insecurity, personal interests, and turfism.
On the other hand, the arguments for decentralization are about commitment and stake. At this point, it maybe helpful to return to Ravitch's last sentence, "School districts should be governed by those who are willing to work diligently to improve them and by those who have the greatest stake in the success of the children and the community." Philippine basic education in its current form can be described by schools being told what to do exactly by an office in Pasig City near Manila. The probability of finding someone who makes decisions in this office and at the same time has a child enrolled in any one of these public schools is very low. Reforms in Philippine basic education is decided by members of Congress and the current residents of the palace in Manila. Likewise, the probability that someone in these decision-making bodies has a child enrolled in any one of these poor public schools is probably zero, not to mention that most of these decision makers know very little about education. Reforms in education that will work cannot come without competence, commitment and stakeholding. Thus, it must come from the ground. Only then would the past may become distinguishable from the present and the future.