Sunday, July 31, 2011

On No Child Left Behind

Assemblywoman Brownley, of whom I wrote yesterday, does not mean badly, I presume; she is, I suppose, listening to the complaints of local public school officials, who complain of "creaming". According to this contention, when charter schools allegedly "cream" or "cherry pick" students, they are taking those who are easiest to educate and likeliest to produce high test scores, and leaving the other, more difficult, lower scoring students behind.

My first objection to this argument is that it regards students as property, currently owned by existing districts, and metaphorically regards them as inanimate objects (cream, cherries), rather than real human beings with preferences, aspirations, and (with their families) a constitutionally protected right to the pursuit of happiness, as they see fit.

But after discounting these inappropriate metaphors, these objections raise the legitimate question, "What would you do about those children who are hardest to teach, come from the most scholastically disadvantaged backgrounds, the ones least likely to get selected in a selective competition for students--those 'last' who, in the words of Jesus, will eventually become 'first'?"

This is a large issue, and I will only introduce an answer here, which I will develop a defence for as this series of posts develops (and I look forward to dialogue with commentators): we need a modern, effective system of vocational education for our family members, friends, and neighbors who are less scholastically inclined, so that when they exit our formal school system, usually at a younger age, they transition smoothly into well paying, respectable, respected, productive jobs and lives as our fellow citizens, free and prepared to return to further education when their desires and changing maturity levels indicate that such is the right move for them at that time.

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