Friday, August 26, 2011

Please Stop Telling Me Our Schools Suck

Apparently yet another report has come out showing that the middle and high schools here in Y-town are terrible. I think I've run through all the stages of grief about local public schools at this point, but then I find myself just feeling pissed today -- pissed that we now live in a world where we test the hell out of kids (acting as if these scores some how let us objectively rank and compare schools) so that districts like mine look like shit. And then we act like it is the school district's fault. I'm pretty sure that we know better, that we know that we don't really even need to waste all those weeks (and money) testing kids (my then 3 rd grader had 3 weeks of standardized testing last year!). All we really need to do is look at the socioeconomic profile. The darker and poorer the district, the "worse" they are (on these tests).

Okay, you and I know this and that is not my point anyway. My point is that I'm pissed that we trot these tests out and it feels like I (as a privileged parent) am supposed to look at the results and pull my not-brown and not-poor kids out...because I can. The whole message to parents is "run if you can." But run where? The subtext seems to be if I have a good student and the means, I'm mortgaging the kid's future by not pulling them. The message to parents like me seems to be: "it's okay, we know you like the idea of public schools but of course you can't endanger the future of your little snowflake..." Here you go privileged people, a signed hall pass getting you out the gym class the rest of the schmucks have to take.

I'm also pissed because a district can try with all its might to create a counter narrative (value of diversity, rich music program, community partnerships, etc.), but the scores will undercut those messages every time. And then they will excuse families that leave "because the public schools are so bad."

Suck it up, people. Public is public. We all have a stake (admittedly not to the same extent) in the schools -- whether or not we have kids, whether or not our kids go to public school. Get in the game. To that end, I'm going to lobby for the newly proposed state law mandating that parents get time off to attend their kids school meetings be expanded to allow ALL employees up to 8 hours of paid hours per month to put into the schools. It would be a start.

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