With shrinking budgets, declining enrollment, school closures, low performing schools, and less than desirable graduation rates can our current public school system be called successful and sustainable? With the failure of schools in urban areas like Kansas City, New York, and Los Angeles is it only a matter of time before large suburban districts feel the same pressures? Are the signs of failure right in front of us?
This weekend I had the opportunity to watch “The Lottery” a documentary film that followed four Kindergarten families through the charter school lottery process in Harlem. The heartbreak for the families whose numbers were not picked was juxtaposed against the sheer joy of those whose numbers were. There were 7 applicants for every seat in the charter school. For all of the parents who filled a convention center to hear the lottery results it was clear, for them, this process was about the future for their child.
Parents in MDUSD have recently had a dialogue on the local blogs about “choice” schools. Some say school choice is unfair and that “choice” schools should be closed. I will argue that it is unfair to our children that we do not have more school choice. Choice provides competition and competition raises quality. As parents, we should be demanding more choice for all of the children in our community. The myth that persists that parents in low performing schools don’t care, is just that… a myth. In 2006, John Stossel hosted 20/20 “Stupid in America” a look at public education and school choice. It is worth watching as is The Lottery which is avalable through Netflix.
After you watch Stupid in America please note that in 2010 South Carolina’s average SAT score for reading and math combined was still under 1000 and they are currently ranked 49th in the nation.
Choice or no choice?