Friday, March 19, 2010
Another Modest Proposal
My compatriot "Mick-of-the-Moment" (I don't know him, but he/she is a frequent blogger on Philly.com) had the following take on the Obama/Duncan/Bloomburg/Ackerman idea to improve public school education, Mick would like to carry the great educational reform ideas over to crime fighting: "Areas of the city with consistently poor crime statistics should have all police officers fired and only 50% can successfully re-apply for their jobs. These districts would be forbidden to join any FOP (union) type organization and officers who work in areas of the city with good crime stats can be moved into a Renaissance police district at any time. Hooray for the Renaissance model!! We all know the way to fix struggling communities is to hold the public employees 100% accountable and the community itself completely unaccountable." Does this sound crazy to you? Of course not! After all, a similar idea is about to save public education. All we have to do to make sure that children being raised in poor neighborhoods that are trapped in an unceasing cycle of generational poverty do well in school is FIRE THEIR TEACHERS! That's right, the very people who have dedicated a great portion of their lives to urban education, who feel called to work in places with legions of problems, who feel privileged to offer a safe haven to kids from tenuous neighborhoods everyday, ARE THE ONES TO BLAME for educational failure! Yes, the test scores and achievement levels that the government measures ARE lower for poverty-stricken students, but that may just be because of poverty and deprivation itself. And, yes, some schools have been able to make astounding achievements in extremely poor areas--but they are usually charters that are able to self-select for very motivated parents and children. The children whose parents are unable or unwilling to participate in their education are the children who we work with every day. Not all teachers are great or even good, but wholesale firing of entire school staffs are certainly not the answer. The Unions have already agreed to newer and innovative methods of evaluations and training for teachers. Most teachers put heart and soul into their work--we do not deserve the sole blame for a large, intractable societal problem. The way to come to a true solution for educational reform is to ask parents and teachers what they need. Society and political leaders need to have the stomach to hold parents and communities accountable for their children. We need to attack poverty and make sure children are safe and well-cared for. Only then will we be able to truly institute educational reforms that work.