Dave Murray raises a pertinent point when discussing the differences in education and especially education outcomes between elite suburbs and some of our more challenged, urban districts.
the question should be why we are teaching students in Grand Blanc and Bloomfield Hills the same way we teach children in our urban areas, where the students have different needs?
That’s not a union problem or a teacher problem. It’s a system problem.
If we end up with different expectations or outcomes depending on where the student comes from then we are rather close to undoing the fundamental vision of public education as a tool for a free society. We educate all, and hold all to the same sorts of standards (and curricula) because we want a common, informed, educated community.
The great fear about the corporate-computer reformers is that their program finally ends up short-changing students, fitting them for employable “slots” but not addressing the more holistic goals of citizenship. A system that equips you for jobs alone, that makes of you an individualistic consumer is one that is a mere hop and a skip from disenfranchising you. No matter how much you put the glitter on, it is still the face of aristocracy. And that we can and must do without.
a further note
Perhaps the big difference between the urban and high-achieving suburban models is how such wider educational goals are achieved. Citizenship, with its exposure to the community’s goods, its arts and values, is actually rather expensive. Not surprisingly, with poverty-challenged learners schools find it easier to “focus on the basics.” And in pure fiscal terms it makes sense. This in fact is how we end up with de facto educational segregation we see now. In this case, it is the place of the community to step up and provide those other programs — the orchestras, the art programs, the debate societies and such — that the particular school district cannot provide. Indeed, with the shift to more distributed educational models, particularly those of the charters, such a move would seem to be a necessity.