Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Public School

Thanks to Becca for this link to the National Council of Churches statement on No Child Left Behind. I live in a place where public schooling is a vexed issue. The city here had its boundaries fixed artificially many years ago to prevent it from annexing portions of the wealthier, whiter suburbs (a result themselves of white flight). Thus as the city had grown the tax base has not, and the schools find themselves in trouble.

My kids go to public school. My son attends the elementary school my daughter attended, one of two high achieving schools in the district, the only one that is truly racially integrated (or so anecdotal evidence suggests...I could be wrong). This year he's in a "testing" year. Virginia uses their aptly-acronymed SOL tests (it stands for Standards of Learning, really it does!) to measure progress on NCLB. This year it seems he's taking a test every week, maybe more. There are computerized tests known as Edu-Tests (the kids pronounce it "Edgy Test," which I love). There are reading tests, math tests, spelling tests, social studies tests, practice tests, and tests.

Nick is actually fine with this, though I bridle at each new test, each new announcement that some part of the curriculum will be skipped this week so the kids can take another test. And yet his school has far less anxiety over this--far less riding on it--than most local schools. His school is fully accredited and meets all standards.

But now they have the kindergartners taking "practice tests." There are SOLs for every grade, and they're starting to test them even in the "off" years.

We always said we'd stay in the public system until they drove us out. I fear, of course, that the purpose of NCLB and SOLs is precisely to drive parents with options out, abandon the schools to kids without options, and then declare them failing.

What I don't understand is why anyone thinks closing schools is a good idea. Even if your kids aren't in school, or aren't in public school, aren't you glad that other kids are? That we as a society take seriously the next generation, which--if we leave it under- or un-educated--might make bad decisions about how to govern us? Don't we, at the very least, want these kids safe and off the streets? I don't get it.


Sandra said...

I do believe that the true purpose of many recent education "reforms" is to privatize education in this country--drive people out of public schools and into the private sector. That will leave only the poor and disabled in public schools, saving money for the government, and allowing them to run public ed like a welfare program.

chip said...

I totally agree with Sandra. The goal is to destroy public schools. The guys who control the country these days believe that churches should provide schooling, and their archnemesis is public schools. That's what the NCLB is really all about.