David Kirp’s soon-to-be-published book, Kids First: Five Big Ideas for Transforming Children’s Lives makes the “broader, bolder” case for reforming urban education without changing schools, writes Paul Peterson on Education Next.
According to Kirp, the best way to improve America’s urban schools is to ignore them. Instead, attention should be focused on parents, pre-schooling, reshaping neighborhoods, finding mentors for the kids, and giving kids money to go to college. In other words, do everything except fix the disastrous state of the big city school system, shaped by court decisions, federal regulations, professional bureaucrats, collective bargaining agreements, and a progressive philosophy that expects little in instruction from teachers.
It’s nice to see the importance of good parents recognized, writes Peterson, even though Kirp “puts his chips on professionals telling mothers what to do rather than suggesting ways to keep parents married and families intact.”
Nurturing preschools, mentors and college savings plans are desirable. But good schools matter too.