Secretary of Education Rod Paige, maker of Texas education "miracles", has declared that the DC voucher program, which doesn’t begin until next fall, will offer "emancipation" to the students participating in the experiement. Dr. Paige offered a number of other applause lines for his audience, including one I agree with, "This plan must be given every chance to work."
However, Dr. Paige also had a couple of other comments that I take issue with.
Paige said the experiment "isn’t about dismantling the public school system. And this isn’t a plan to federalize the schools." Rather, he said, it is a means to offer choice to those who couldn’t afford it otherwise.
No, this isn’t about federalizing the schools, it’s about privatizing them. The same thing W and his friends want to do with every part of government short of the military. But the part of his remarks that really piss me off are these.
"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."
So according to our national "educational" leader (and I’m being very charitable with that phrase), those of us who work for a public school system are simply sitting around, drinking coffee and waiting for the next check to arrive from Washington or Richmond. Dr. Paige believes public schools have a "monopoly" and therefore no one is even trying to improve student learning. I don’t think I’ve heard a bigger piece of crap out of a national leader in years. Not even his boss’ remark this week that "the illiteracy level of our children are appalling".
Update (1/30/04) – Jeff at So You Want to be a Science Teacher has some thoughts on what Paige means in his use of the word "emancipation" and how it ties to NCLB. You can bet the term wasn’t chosen by accident.