Jenny D. asks the question today
What do you think is a good school, and how would you know it if you saw it?
and then provides this answer.
I think schools are about academics first, and teaching civic values second. I look for a school where kids are learning, where teaching is of high quality, where test scores matter and inform teaching. I look for conversations about operating in a democracy and other civic issues.
I agree… if you’re dealing with an ideal society. A society in which all the issues she seems to say have no place in the classroom – operating in a democratic society, morals, social tolerance, health issues – are adequately addressed outside of school.
I certainly agree that our educational system doesn’t do a good job with all these extra issues (and largely shouldn’t be doing them). By all means schools should set priorities and focus their time and resources on doing a good job with their primary responsibilities.
Unfortunately, real life tends to intrude. And the reason that helping students deal with these and other social problems has become part of the everyday experience in many American schools is that society has largely abdicated responsibility for them. It would be nice if we could just focus on the academics and ignore all the other issues, but it doesn’t work that way.
So, a better question would be what is a good school in the reality that is 21st century America?
That’s a much tougher question to answer and one not easily measured with a standardized test.