Education Reform For Thee, But Not For Me: What Education Reform Should Really Be

A critical political Obama ally is billionaire Penny Pritzker. Pritzker also happens to be a member of the Chicago Board of Education and a fan of education ‘reform’ (boldface mine):

Farmer is a trial lawyer. He describes how he bristled when he heard an interview on the radio in which Pritzker described what Chicago students need: enough skills in reading, mathematics, and science to be productive members of the workforce. Why no mention of the arts, of music, of physical education, he wondered.

So he cross-examined Pritzker in absentia. Her own children attend the University of Chicago Lab School. Mayor Rahm Emanuel sends his children there too. Arne Duncan is a graduate.

Farmer points out that the Lab School has a rich curriculum, not preparation for the workforce. Children there get the arts and physical education there every day. The Lab School has a beautiful library, and Pritzker is raising money to make it even grander and more beautiful. He asks the absent Pritzker, “Do you know that 160 public schools in Chicago don’t have a library?”

The Lab School has seven teachers of the arts. In a high school that Pritzker voted to close, there was not a single arts teacher.

Matt Farmer goes on to quote the director of the Lab School, who opposes standardized testing and insists upon a rich curriculum. The statement by the Lab School’s director about the importance of the union bring the assembled teachers to their feet, roaring and applauding.

I hope Penny Pritzker and Rahm Emanuel [Mayor of Chicago and ‘reform’ advocate] watch this video. People who have the good fortune to send their children to elite private schools should do whatever they can to spread the same advantages to other people’s children. When they are members of the board of education and the mayor, they have a special responsibility to do what is right for the children in their care. If they inflict policies on other people’s children that are unacceptable for their own children, they should be ashamed.

Mind you, the same criticism should be launched at education ‘reform’ advocate New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But I digress.

If we had real education reform, it would focus on equality of opportunity. Every school would have libraries, art and music classes, well-equipped science labs. There would be enough guidance counsellors. Physical education. In every single school.

Would all students excel under these circumstances? No. Then again, not all students excel in elite private schools. But ‘pearls before swine’ should never be an educational philosophy, despite what some ‘reformers’ like Rahm Emanuel secretly believe.

True equality of educational opportunity, where every school is as well equipped as a ‘gifted and talented’ or magnet school, not union busting combined with the latest nostrums, is what real reform would look like.

Related: Farmer’s video is here.

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3 Responses to Education Reform For Thee, But Not For Me: What Education Reform Should Really Be

  1. joemac53 says:

    My kids all did well in our regular public school, with arts, sports, music, counseling, labs and all that makes for a good educational experience. This should be the norm. I never believed that we should be educating little workers, but learners who would be able to learn skills to fit an occupation they desired. I did not train engineers, but I helped them learn enough math so they could be any kind of engineer they wanted to be.

  2. Min says:

    “If we had real education reform, it would focus on equality of opportunity.”

    We don’t want no stinking opportunity, not for the masses. Who would clean our toilets? As Roger Freeman, Nixon education adviser said, “We are in danger of producing an educated proletariat. That’s dynamite!”

  3. Susan Ozmore says:

    Public education should be a place where the world is opened up to our children in all its aspects. This includes things that feed the mind, body, and senses, physical education, music, art, etc. These things should not be the property of the elite. Sure skills are important, but as a math teacher I saw my job as one of teaching my students how to think critically, a ‘skill’ that applied to many areas. Also, as a student (many years ago) I was in the orchestra all through my public school days. The county where I taught, didn’t have an orchestra in any public school. It made me very sad. Thanks for your post.

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