Tag: school board

Philadelphia Teachers Disrupt School Board Meeting

In poll after poll, parents tell us that they care about academic achievement, but that they also want schools to help instill good values. And since children are adept at drawing lessons from adults’ behavior as well as from their words, it’s always nice when teachers conduct themselves with decorum and sensitivity. Which begs the question, how many parents would want their children to emulate the teachers who disrupted last week’s meeting of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission—the district’s governing body? For that matter, how many of these teachers would want their students to behave this way in class?

All the shouting, incidentally, was over the Reform Commission’s decision to require teachers to contribute for the first time to their health insurance premiums. For what it’s worth, Philadelphia was one of only two districts in the state that had not yet required this.

Conflict and Class Integration in Wake County, NC

Explicit, forced racial integration of the public schools is almost completely a thing of the past, buried in part by broad distaste for it among Americans of all races who had grown tired of the conflict, coercion, and plain inconvenience it often caused, as well as numerous Supreme Court rulings sharply curtailing it. But coerced integration has not gone away: Proponents of engineering racial integration have turned to income as the basis for assigning kids to schools, with the goal of achieving greater socio-economic – and, in the process, racial – balance.

To listen to some proponents of coerced integration by class, this new focus is a clear social and educational success. To illustrate the success, in All Together Now: Creating Middle-Class Schools through Public School Choice, Century Foundation scholar Richard Kahlenberg highlights Wake County, North Carolina, among a few other places.  Here’s his conclusion on Wake County as of about 2000, when school board candidates campaigning for “neighborhood schools” – meaning school assignment based on geography instead of racial or economic mix – were roundly defeated:

Wake County citizens knew firsthand that racial integration in the schools had worked, and now they were at the forefront in promoting a bold new version in the twenty-first century.

Apparently, much has changed in ten years: Today, the Wake County school district seems to be almost in the midst of a civil war as a new majority attempts to return the district to neighborhood schooling. Indeed, just yesterday a board meeting descended into bedlam – as previous meetings have – as protestors and school board members on all sides fought one another over the effort to return to neighborhood schooling.

What’s the lesson here? The same one we should learn every time Americans fight – and they fight a lot – over their public schools: Lots of people want myriad different things for their kids – racial diversity, schools near their homes, specific curricular focuses – and government schooling simply cannot give it to all of them. That is why if we ever want real, lasting peace in education we must end government schooling and move to a system of universal educational freedom. It’s the only way that all people can pursue the education they want without having to impose it in on everyone else.