I just sent the following letter to The Chicago Tribune after reading its re-print of a Wall Street Journal piece by Peggy Noonan. You can read the snippet on the editorial page of today's Trib. The full WSJ article is here. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304554004579423652327569982 I could not disagree more with the conclusions she draws or the reasoning she employs.
I hope you printed the Peggy Noonan/WSJ snippet in today's “What Others are Saying” section as an example of the faulty, foolish thinking of even the most worldly and well-read among us. The fact that Ms. Noonan believes the “very existence of charter schools is an implicit rebuke to the public schools” is evidence that she is still, quite, missing the point. A rebuke? Reducing the conflict here to a schoolyard-esque trade of institutional insults is embarrassing. The stakes are a bit higher.
Public education is the foundational pillar upon which rests the democracy; someone ought to tell Peggy. One need not be ideologically aligned one way or another to understand that undermining public education by diverting resources, both financial and human, to the “something new” that she insists must be tried is a travesty of the highest order. This, not because we should ignore our problems with education, but because we cannot sacrifice public education on the altar of change without thought as to consequence. How many steps is it from ‘charter’ to ‘branded’? The recent TIME article about the six-year school where IBM has been a key partner in developing the curriculum should give you a clue - and great pause. http://time.com/7066/the-school-that-will-get-you-a-job/
Will public schools, where the filters of selective enrollment, IB, private-partnership and charter have already been applied, become the dumping grounds for neglected and ill-cared-for children? What if your mom and dad just don’t understand the system? Don’t speak English? 'Give us your tired and your poor, so we can segregate you from the rest of us!’ we should say. Is that what we want public schools to become? It certainly seems so.
Shall we then seat those children on crappy, old and broken CTA buses and put everyone else on special public transportation because “something new must be tried”?
I don’t care one whit what Ms. Noonan’s opinion of New York's mayor is but I do care that this nonsense about schools continues with lukewarm challenge, at best. “[T]here’s something to the wisdom of crowds,” Ms. Noonan tells us. Really? There were crowds at public hangings at one time in our history, crowds at purchases of other human beings for slave-work at one time, crowds in Nazi Germany. “The wisdom of crowds” is how Ms. Noonan would tell us to measure the value of charters? She’s a dangerous fool.