Aristotle’s feet

Aristotle’s feet
Originally uploaded by maha-online.

But before I go to the school meeting, let me get my rant on for a moment here. I keep thinking of those conversations about school funding and school quality. The conversations where someone says, “Well, of course I want my child to have every advantage.” Meaning, I want them to go to the best possible school, and maybe it is time to think about private school.

I keep mentally completing that sentence, “… every advantage over someone else’s kid.” And not liking that.

The argument goes that we have to let the already rich schools do their own fundraising only for themselves because they won’t raise the money for everyone, because the money, that 100K, spread over all the schools in the district won’t make any significant difference. But that 100K in their own child’s school will make the school better, and if even a few rich educated privileged families leave the school, the whole district loses out. So we have to build inequality into our district, on purpose. We have to have some schools better than other schools, or the fancy people will yank their kids and put them in private school and there will be no good public school. At this point, understand me, I think “good” means “can afford not only a stapler in every classroom, but a phys ed teacher, or a full-time principal, or enough teachers.” On another scale, unfortunately it is clear that “good” means “highest test scores” which means “has the most native English speakers”. Which gets you very quickly into basic racism and since I have only a few more minutes to rant, I’m not going to spell all of that out.

At t his moment I just want to harangue someone, even myself, about the differences between “having every advantage (over)”, which is inequality, and privilege, and entitlement; that vs. “equal opportunity” which means everyone gets access to the resources for education to happen. Not everyone is going to be brilliant, not everyone will go to college and maybe not everyone needs to. Anyway, equal opportunity is not only a nice concept of social justice, it is also the law of this country. But that is not what we have and it is, apparently, not what the privileged want.

Yes, at heart, I am also a product of that kind of privilege, and I still want my child to be tutored by Aristotle in a palace made of gold. But not at every other child’s expense. I think of what I wish I had, and what I could have learned. Of course I want my kid to be able to have opportunities I didn’t have. But, there is nothing in me that makes me think that other people don’t also want their kids to have those same opportunities.

Oh well, this is all a rather hi-falutin’ way to say that I am dissatisfied with the very boring worksheets he brings home and the lack of anything interesting being taught, like science, natural history, geography, culture, history, politics, or anything other than “basic skills you need to score well on the test so that the principal has an upward trend in his career and can say he improved the school’s average test scores” and simultaneously I feel a little bitter and resentful towards the other parents who justify their elitism and stick their kids in private school or homeschool them. I respect y’all on a basic level, of wanting what is good for your kid, but, I have very, very grave suspicions and mixed feelings about doing either of those two things.

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6 Responses to Aristotle’s feet

  1. wired says:

    My partner and I have a basic divergence of opinion on this. It's not showing up tooo much now, because the kids aren't in school yet, but it will.I don't want to move to California (which might be best for his career), because I am well aware of how the state has systematically fucked school funding. I went to school in California, 20-some years ago, and even then, class sizes were 35, and teachers bought their own construction paper.When we lived in the Twin Cities, I wanted a house in the Minneapolis district, which had magnet schools, and needed families where a parent could afford to be involved in helping. He wanted a more suburban district, "safer", richer.He argues that the kids should not be penalized by my scholastic crusade, and I argue that if we pull our kids (and by extension, ourselves) out of the bad district, it gets worse, and other kids are penalized.I may not be presenting his argument justly, but that's how it sounds to me. And he went to a nice suburban school district, and I went to a dirt-poor rural district, where I clawed my education out of nothing.And mostly what my experience in a poor district taught me was:1) Fight for what you need (in my class, an honors class. Any kind of honors class)2) Education is to school as 2 is to 1. I did not learn colonial theory, european history, healthcare statistics, or world literature at school. That came from home. School was a lot more about learning to work the system, to do pointless work, because life is like that, and to interact with people who were not my family. Also, multiplication tables.Er, not that I feel passionately about this, or anything.

  2. Jeremy Adam Smith says:

    This is really quite a good post, Liz. I just linked to it over at Daddy Dialectic.Take a look at my Sept. 19 post on Melinda Duckett. I'm curious what you think, if anything.

  3. Jared says:

    The difference between public and private schools isn't how much money is available, but how that money is used.The private school my son will attend has less to spend per student than our local public schools, yet the education is far better.This isn't about inequality or racism, it's about bureaucracy. Public education is top-heavy and laden with budget meetings, requisition forms, and teachers' unions.The money is there, but it's horribly mismanaged. It's used to maintain the system, rather than to provide quality education. The people who know best how the money should be used–local teachers and administration–have the least influence.Our decision to send our son to a private school is not elitest; it's common sense. Why should I deny my son a better education merely because others can't afford it? We can barely afford it ourselves, yet it's important enough for us to make the financial sacrifices to make his education possible.The primary reason we want our son to attend this school is because of its Christian foundations. Should I send my son to a school which doesn't share (and can be openly hostile toward) my values, merely as a political statement?And, don't forget, while my son attends private school, we're still paying taxes which fund our local public schools.Of course, elitism is alive and well. This is true even in public education. But it's unjust to blame poor eduction on those who have no control over it.

  4. Chip says:

    jerod, private schools can pick and choose who they serve. Plus, parents have to be proactive in choosing private school, and be able and willing to pay.Public schools have to educate everyone, including students with severe handicaps and disabilities, many of which are caused by and linked to poverty, which in turn is caused by and linked to the cut over the past 25 years in public funding for all kinds of programming.Public schools therefore do have a higher per student funding rate, but do you know how expensive it is to pay for the education of an autistic kid or a handicapped kid or a kid who is growing up in severe poverty?Believe me, I know about the public school bureaucracy and have blogged about my own nightmare stories. But you cannot compare the populations that private schools serve vs. the mandated population that public schools must serve. In effect, public schools are now social service providers for the most vulnerable in our society.And finally, overall, a recent Dept of Ed report that, of course, the Bushies tried to hide, showed that overall private schools do not do any better than public schools, and that "Christian" private schools actually do worse.Finally, while this may not be important to you, for some of us school is about more than just "getting ahead" academically. It's about experience the whole range of class spectrums in this country, it's about experiencing and learning from that. As the BitchPhD post I refer to in my comments over at Daddy Dialectic explains so well.

  5. The interactive session in educational process is very essential. The interactive nature of things helps the students to learn various things and be polished at the end of the day.

  6. intgeresting post thanks