Chett at ReformK12, another new blog devoted to the topic of education, also took me to task for my comments about Rod Paige’s speech. However, in this case I disagree with most of what he had to say and here’s why.
What Paige and other supporters of vouchers are calling for certainly is privatization of schools. Whether it’s "wholesale" or "small-scale" it still boils down to the same thing, transferring a function of government to the private sector. Is privatization of schools the wrong thing for the federal government to do? I still haven’t decided. However, it does seem to be outside of their responsibilities since public schools are under state and local control and they contribute very little to the support (less than 7%). For anyone who cares to read it, I’ll have more thoughts on vouchers later in the week.
The larger part of my complaint came from this part of Paige’s remarks which I found downright insulting.
"When students are required by law to attend a particular school, the school doesn’t have to do anything to secure quality or produce scholarship," Paige said. "It just has to open the door and collect the local and state stipend for each student."
Chett seemed to think I was taking Paige’s remarks too far and that he wasn’t applying them to all public schools. All I have to go on are the Secretary’s words and if you read the full speech, he is not conditional about applying this criticism to all public schools. He doesn’t qualifiers like "some" or "big city" or "DC". His speech is painting all public schools with the same brush, which is like saying every private school is excellent. Of course, considering the audience he was speaking to, this may have just been another applause line for the crowd but, if so, that makes his statements even worse.
Where ReformK12 and I do agree is that public schools need changing and some systems, especially in DC and other large cities, need a large scale overhaul right down to the foundation. I would go beyond that and say that the basic structure of all K-12 education needs change, even in those schools and systems that supposedly "work" (more on that later as well).
Back to you Chett. (and if you get that reference, you are mighty old! :-)