Sticking with the status quo

Here’s an eloquent defense of the status quo in a Seattle Times op-ed by a school board member and a superintendent.

And, while charter-school supporters point to other studies and anecdotal information to show that charter schools can work, vying studies don’t demonstrate who is right and who is wrong. They simply demonstrate that the possibility for success of children in charter schools is an unknown. Our children’s education is too important to try experiments to see what works best.

Brian mocks them.

When they talk or write about “experiments,” they, and their usual audiences and readerships, see evil right-wing monsters inflicting cruel tortures on furry white animals and chucking defenseless kids off an experimental cliff.

Parents choose charter schools because they’re not satisfied with the status quo and want to try an alternative. Should they be prevented from making that choice?

About Joanne


  1. Mike in Texas says:

    I’m going to try out the instructions Joanne and others gave on posting links.

    A Texas judge has ruled the states’s system of educational funding is unconstitutional. The judge found that schools were prevented by the current system of raising additional funds to meet the additional demands the state has place on them. Remember, this is the “model” Bush et. al. have touted as the way to improve public schools and those schools that don’t conform are forced to give up students.


  2. “We know that smaller class size, a well-qualified educator in every classroom and effective instructional practices provide quality results. We know that involved parents make a difference. We know that support for children before and after school is vitally important. Voters know this, too. ”

    The smug word here is VOTER. Large political machines like the AFT have voting power. The NAEP measure scores from tests we think are easy, and published the results because we give them credibility. It’s good to take a critical look at charter schools, are they really freeing educators from regulation? They are still measured, funded and fueled by the same academic communities that created mamoth, ineffective, presure cooker schools. To be successful charter schools cannot be the dumping station that administrators terrorize families into using, or an elitist play-puddle for oddballs. The massive failure of Charter schools is being defined as an unmeasurable group because they’re all so ‘different’.

    I don’t think parents are really looking for different, they want stability. They want teachers who expect immature children to show up in their class; teachers who assign homework, grade papers and are capable of giving the respect they want. I haven’t really seen a day care center that was capable of serving a broad culture fairly, but fairness has to be the focus. Charter schools need to establish their audience and their measure; or it will be defined by their enemies.

  3. Steve LaBonne says:

    The author of this article would probably not agree that parents whose kids are trapped in failing schools aren’t interested in trying something different.

  4. Steve LaBonne says:

    Sorry, I must have committed some syntax error, and the preview function doesn’t seem to be working which doesn’t help. Here’s that

  5. Reading the article Steve posted, I couldn’t help but wonder why advocates of educational alternatives so often play into the hands of the education establishment by arguing about educational efficacy.

    The central issue is choice. Who has it and who should have it.

    You can argue endlessly about whether testing should occur, which tests, under what circumstances, using what statistical methods and what it all means. You can argue endlessly and that plays into the hands of people who want no substantive change, supporters of the status quo.

    What’s inherently difficult to argue against is that parents should make the substantive decisions about the education of their child.

    The strongest argument that can be made against parental choice is that education is such a complex and subtle process that only highly-trained professionals can select among the myriad of techniques, technologies, strategies and modalities and find precisely the correct one to assure a good educational outcome for each child.

    Yeah, right.

    Of course, people make decisions on a daily basis that they don’t have the expertise, experience or equipment to carry out themselves. If the trade-offs are explained by an expert, someone who does have the knowledge, and that expert’s advice is measured against the advice of other experts, an informed decision can be made even by someone who has no expertise.

    Will it always be the best decision?

    Of course not. But the person making the decision is the person who has to live with the consequences.

    That’s why giving primacy in the debate to educational outcome is such a mistake. It ignores the unquestionable, the parents desire to get the best education for their children, in favor of the highly-debatable.

  6. This is all about money and control, not what is best for each child. Do they want to eliminate all private schools or just the charters? Do they think that affluent parents are capable of choosing and poor parents are not? Are private schools successful but charter schools not successful? Perhaps, it’s because the educational establishments in each state fight charter schools tooth and nail and the laws straddle them with all sorts of conditions, restrictions, and approvals. When a charter school is proposed that sets higher standards, it gets rejected. The authors of the article know this.

    “…That is why voters approved two initiatives to fund these very things in Washington’s public schools. Instead of fully funding the education initiatives passed by the voters, the Legislature passed a charter-school bill that takes money away from our public schools. It ignored the fact that Washington voters have rejected charter-school initiatives twice in the past eight years.”

    I can’t comment on whether or not their legislature is following the wishes of the voters. It also depends on what “fully funding” means. The implication is that money going to charter schools is the reason why the public school initiatives are not fully funded. Is Washington reducing its per-pupil public school funding, or is it just that the state portion follows the student to the charter school?

    This seems to be their real problem. If these initiatives were “fully funded”, would they be happy and not care about charter schools? Or, would they find some other reason to reject charter schools? There are two issues here; “fully funding” public schools and whether parental choice and charter schools offer a better education for some children.

    My guess is that many think that if the state spends any money on charter schools, then it is not fully funding the public schools.
    Does this sound like they have the best interest of each child in mind? Or, do they think that poor parents should not be allowed to choose?

  7. “Our children’s education is too important to try experiments to see what works best”…so, why has the educational establishment been so eager to join the fad-of-the-month club, endlessly tinkering with the curriculum to follow whatever untested theories emerge from the ed schools?

  8. This reminds me of a lawsuit against the welfare reform bill of the 90s. It claimed that since Congress did not know exactly what the result of the reform would be, it was an experiment (on human subjects), and thus required the consent of the subjects. I only read about the filing of the lawsuit, so I’m virtually certain it was quickly dismissed.

  9. In the future, choice in schooling will be the norm.

    We will look back on quotes like this and shake our heads and ask ourselves, Were people really this wrongheaded? In our lifetime?

    It reminds me of those attractive young women with science degrees that Phillip Morris hired to go on TV years ago to claim there is no link between tobacco and cancer.

    Choice is as important in education as it is in economics.

    I know a lot of people are against bilingual education. I happen to be for it though I wouldn’t want it imposed on anybody. Fortunately, I’m able to send my son to a bilingual magnet school. Everybody is there by choice and everybody is happy. And I imagine the people at the regular school are pretty happy they don’t have to put up with us.

    If it weren’t for Bush’s record on the evironment and his foreign policy, I’d vote for him because of his support of choice in schooling.

    Gosh, is Nader for school choice? I better look into that. If so, he’ll get my vote.

  10. Mike in Texas says:

    I know a lot of people are against bilingual education.

    Actually bilingual education is terribly misused in the US. It’s used for the kids who are trying to learn English instead of being used for the kids who already know English but would like to learn a second language.

    School administrators like it of course b/c it involves lots of federal money. This is why the city of Oakland wanted ebonics declared another language, they wanted the federal bilingual money.

  11. A lot can be said against bilingual education (listen to Joanne Jacobs) but this federal-money-for-ebonics story happens to be a right-wing myth.

  12. Regarding minority support for charter schools:
    Note the fear is instability and measurements driven industry.

    “But John H. Jackson, the national education director for the Baltimore, Md.-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said its members want high-quality education in their neighborhoods, not an unstable “corporate movement,” as he calls the push for choice.”
    “Dropout rates have risen in the past few years, especially for African- American males. The costs for dropping out are high; those that do not
    graduate have no chance for college and little chance of finding a decent job. There is also an increased likelihood that they will be imprisoned.”

    “There is little evidence of a correlation between high test scores and job success. The test score gap between black and white males has narrowed by half since the mid-60s, while the black-white wage gap for males that narrowed primarily during the period of civil rights enforcement has grown since that time.”

    The goals of people are survival and personal identity. The fear is being marginalize regardless while fueling a system that destroys you.

  13. Robert Wright: Right wing myth? I merely Googled various key words and got the following site here.

    There’s also this story where Jesse Jackson is quoted as saying “They’re really asking for some resources… Just as you go from Spanish to English, go from improper grammar to English.”

    What does “resources” mean here, Robert?


  1. Experimenting on School Children

    Joanne Jacobs quotes a Seattle school superintendent and school board member criticizing charter schools on the grounds that children are too precious to experiment on. She then quotes another blogger ridiculing that fear.

  2. When “progressive education” means retaining the status quo

    Joanne Jacobs uncovered a brilliantly idiotic op-ed about how our children are too important to risk experimenting with, when “experimenting” is defined as “changing the public school system to something that might work better”: The NAEP data adds to t…