Thursday, May 03, 2007

Small Hijacking

The following was written by Deborah Meier recently on edweek's blog. I think its interesting how ideas of reform can be hijacked by people with less-than-noble goals. I suppose this happens with all reform movements. Adopting some principles and disregarding others. Creating small learning communities and knowing our students should be a positive move to help our students. However there is also a danger in labeling the students. Or offering teachers an opportunity to reap the benefits of common planning time (SLC) and teachers deciding during that time to vote down SLCs. Are we staying the course set out in the original concept paper? Or are we getting comfortable letting others "Fight the Fight"?

Meier Writes: "On a rather smaller and humbler scale, the role I've played in both pushing and implementing the idea of school choice and small schools sometimes haunts me. Choice has been co-opted by those who want to privatize public education and as a means for resegregating by class, race, "talent" or "future vocations". Small schools, for some reformer, just means creating more manageable sub-divisions in order, I sometimes suspect, to make monitoring for compliance easier. It's far harder to be unnoticed—for good and bad—in a large school. But the story is not over, and both of these concepts may yet be turned around to represent reform practices we both like.

In today's culture, the closer our children get to adulthood the fewer adults they know well, and the less they experience the adult world first hand. We have largely abandoned the young to a peer and media culture that is built round only one value system: the profit motive. (I notice one of our respondents thinks this is precisely what's missing from public school—the profit motive.) I wanted small schools to reconnect strong adults with would-be strong kids. Only powerful schools in which adult life is robust and visible to the young can create the kind of democratic culture we need. The adults include the staff of the school, of course, and the families of the students, and others in the larger community—face to face, not solely through virtual realities. "

No comments: