Here we go again….a Hebrew charter school meant for District 22 in Brooklyn. Its founder is yet another child of yet another billionaire – in this case, Michael Steinhardt. In answer to a parent’s question about the school, Diane Ravitch writes:
In brief, my view is that the city should not be creating special schools based on religion, ethnicity, and language. The long-established tradition of public education is that public schools are open to all and offer a curriculum that is appropriate for all.
Because we are such a diverse nation, the public schools provide the common ground for children and families of all backgrounds. This is why in the past most Americans would have immediately and instinctively opposed the creation of a special school for children whose families come from one nation; or one race; or one religion; or one culture. Such a concept is directly in conflict with the mission of American public education, which is to educate our children for citizenship and full participation in our democracy.
Parents who want their children to learn about their heritage culture and language should do so after school. And public schools, for their part, should offer a variety of languages and teach about the nations and cultures of the world.
But it is inappropriate for a public school to teach as if it were a private, sectarian school. That is not what public education is supposed to be.
Authorizing schools that teach only one culture and one language is at odds with the long-established meaning and purpose of public education.
-- Diane Ravitch