John Dewey wrote that what the best and wisest parent wants for his own child is what the community should want for all its children. That's a good starting point. What does the best and wisest parent want for his or her own child? Certainly, that parent would want a school with small classes, which guarantees that her child would get personal attention.
In this case, the majority of NYC parents are “the best and the wisest.” Over and over again, in the DOE own annual surveys, public school parents say their top priority for their children’s schools is smaller classes, followed by more enrichment. And yet they are completely ignored by an administration whose own children attend schools with just these attributes.
One might add, what private school has merit pay tied to standardized test scores? Or spends millions to create teams of teachers and bureaucrats to engage in “data analysis” supposedly to help “differentiate” instruction, while doing nothing to reduce class size?
What private school has adopted what is likely to be the next priority of the administration, according to Chris Cerf, which is to further “individualize” learning through online computer instruction, rather than give students an opportunity to receive more feedback from actual human beings? As Joel Klein has said, if he gets his way, he will cut the teaching force by another 30 percent.
Not a single private school that I know of would stand for such priorities, and certainly none of the elite schools where the officials determining educational policy for our public schools sent their own children to school.
Mayor Bloomberg: Spence (average class size: 16-18); Chancellor Klein: Miss Porter’s (average class size: 11); Photo Agnostopoulos (DOE’s Chief Operating Officer) Dalton (average class size: 15)
Obama: Sidwell Friends (average class size: 15).
Are these the priorities of President Obama's Race to the Top Fund? Absolutely not! The president's Department of Education will dispense nearly $5 billion, not to reduce class sizes, not to expand access to the arts, and not to improve the beauty and functionality of our public schools, but to incentivize the workforce with merit pay; to increase the privatization of struggling schools; and to compel teachers to teach to admittedly poor tests by tying teacher pay to students' test scores. Let's get back to the new federal education agenda. Seeing how little has changed from Bush to Obama in education policy, I want my share of that $5 billion back.