Who Should Control America’s Schools?

This July 28-31 there is to be a big education rally in Washington — explained here: Save Our Schools March & National Call to Action. This rally is a protest of No Child Left Behind, and Race To The Top. The web-site says:

“As concerned citizens, we demand an end to the destructive policies and rhetoric that have eroded confidence in our public schools, demoralized teachers, and reduced the education of too many of our children to nothing more than test preparation.”

This sounds like a good reason to rally, and the organizers of this Washington event should have stopped with their explanation there.  But, instead, they frame the rally in these terms:  “We stand united by one belief – it’s time for teachers and parents to organize and reclaim control of our schools.”

It is a bad idea that the rally should be all about demanding that teachers and parents gain control of the schools. A lot of people who would support a call for a national discussion about how to improve public education, would oppose a solution giving control of public education to the teachers and parents.

Teachers are a special interest whose economic well-being is tied to the policies of the education system. And parents also are a special interest seeking ever more resources and advantage from the education system. I don’t think it is wise to make the rally all about providing more public money to special interests. The organizers of the rally should reframe their call to action as one of general civic concern, something all citizens should support: “It is time for citizens to organize and reclaim control …”

Citizen control — via a system of 14,000 individual school boards — is a neglected feature of the American educational system.  It has been superseded by demands coming from the federal and state levels of government — demands often created by the special interests of those most engaged in the system: teachers and parents. And it has been corrupted by the power of special interests — teachers and parents — who are engaged in choosing school board members and in setting school board policies.

The strongest way to frame a Washington rally to reform and improve public education would be to say, “It is time for citizens to organize and reclaim local control …”


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One Response to Who Should Control America’s Schools?

  1. Rick says:

    If Save Our Schools were honest, here is what it would say:
    “We demand and end to an honest discussion of the merits of American education. Trust the educators; that should have all the control; they know best. (Old Prof) These test are not real, they only measure how well the student has mastered the subject. Give us more and more raises because more money always brings better teachers. If you don’t agree with us, we will take our ball and go home. If that doesn’t work, we will riot, stop the process of government and threaten to kill anyone who disagrees with us. Long live Lenin!”

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