Last comment by Ginger Spickler. I seem to have logged in with an old account.
You're absolutely right that charter schools (or private schools that educate low-income kids) aren't the solution. But they certainly seem to be part of it, so why bag on them? I know the author didn't harp on this in his column, but looking at the comments, all I see is that we're blaming it on the parents. I'm guessing that a lot of those Soulsville parents would have once been characterized as "uninvolved" and the kids as "unmotivated" until they were given a quality educational choice in their neighborhood.
A solution for the masses? Maybe not. You're right to say that no one has cracked that nut. But a solution for a lot of kids who probably would have fallen through the cracks? Seems to be. Why would we not try to provide more of these opportunities?
Instead of spilling ink/pixels griping that it's not a cure-all, why don't we encourage those involved in these efforts to keep on keepin' on and encourage the System to grant more charter-like autonomy to the schools under their control? I'm betting the teachers and administrators in the "non-selective" schools wouldn't mind that a bit. We might even find that we have more motivated students and engaged parents than we thought we had.
An education like the one Matt Damon describes is not precluded by testing. Many studies have shown that teachers who provide this kind of well-rounded education have students who do better on tests than the teachers who go the drill-and-kill route. So, the problem, then, is not the test, but rather what teachers are told they have to do for their kids to do well on the tests.
In a place like Memphis, we need those tests to paint a vivid picture of the costs of education inequalities so that we're motivated to address them. Certainly NCLB needs to be updated based on what we've learned since it was implemented, and the system of punishing schools based on their test scores probably should be rethought. But without those tests, and the specific information they give us about how our schools are functioning, we'd be a lot more in the dark about which reforms are working or not working. Don't blame the tests -- they're just a mirror of what's happening in both classrooms AND homes.
I was very excited until I read the 21 and up thing -- guess we can't come. Midtown has a LOT of kids and they'll be missing out on a lot of business by making that decision.
Please, oh please, open a Mellow Mushroom in Midtown! Cooper Young has plenty of open space just waiting for you!
By Frank Murtaugh
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