Emerging script about public schools?

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2013

Things we heard over Christmas vacation: Over the Christmas break, it occurred to us that we were hearing an emerging script about the public schools.

Prevailing script about public schools has largely come from the corporate center. Everyone knows the basic elements of this script:
Basic parts of the standard public school script:
Our public schools are a disaster.
No progress has been recorded. Indeed, we’ve been moving backwards!
Miraculous Finland, the light of the world, shows us the various ways to proceed.
It’s all the teachers’ fault, what with their fiendish unions!
In our view, those basic elements of the script all seem to be quite absurd. But these presentations have become quite standard in the past decade.

Over the Christmas break, we thought we saw the basic elements of an emerging liberal script. If this is an emerging script, we’re not sure it’s much better than the script we already have.

That said, the analysts tell us it’s New Year’s Eve! Why be negative on such a joyous occasion?

We’ll return to this theme as the week proceeds. In the new year, we liberals should try to create constructive suggestions for public schools, for all the kids within them.

We don’t think it’s especially helpful if we create our own brand of bullroar. Over the break, we thought we saw such scripting start to appear.

Other things we heard over Christmas: Down in North Carolina, a young scholar attends second grade in her neighborhood public school.

Her neighborhood school is a low-income school. Seventy-nine percent of the kids get free or reduced-price lunch. The school is one-third white, one-third black and one-third Hispanic.

Some of the kids don’t have English yet. None of the three major groups score as well as their peers in the state as a whole.

That said, this young scholar’s mother is thrilled with her second-grade teacher. We visited the school in June 2012 and thought the place was great.

We’ll admit that we were surprised by some of the things this young scholar told us during the Christmas break.

On the 26th, she read a piece in Highlights magazine asking why liquid rises through a straw when you suck on it. She proceeded to throw off an explanation based on what molecules do.

On the 27th, we toured a local public garden. She told us to put our ear on a handrail as she banged something on it. Sound travels through metal 16 times faster than through air, she facilely explained.

We’re not saying her statements were right. (Wikipedia says the number is really 15.) We’ll have to admit that we were surprised by the stuff she’s being taught inside a low-income school which underperforms the state of North Carolina.

(Repeat: When we visited the school, we thought it was fantastic. We plan to visit again in March.)

When did we learn about molecules? we asked this youngster’s grandmother that very night.

“Molecules?” her grandmother said, offering a puzzled look.

5 comments:

  1. I love this, and I could share a similar experience.

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  2. By the way, I am anxious to follow the approach to education of Mayor de Blasio of New York. We already have a different sort of Superintendent appointed.

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