Wednesday, April 3, 2013
A personal note
I haven’t written much about myself or my family on this blog, however, I am doing so now because GothamSchools is intent on writing about me, my organization Class Size Matters, and about the fact that my son entered a private high school this year. I told their reporter Geoff Decker about this in the fall, in the midst of a longer, off the record conversation about many things, and ever since, whenever I have contacted him about possible stories, he has brought up this issue instead of more important ones. I myself don’t think it is either particularly interesting or relevant, but since he is intent on writing about the situation, and said he intends to compare me to Michelle Rhee, who also sends one of her children to private school, I decided I should explain why I think our situations are quite different.
I had kids in NYC public schools for a total of 15 years; my daughter attended public schools from K-6th grade; my son K-8th grade. My record of advocacy and my continued work in this area should prove my commitment to public school children. The private schools they attended have the sort of small classes that I believe all children have the right to receive. It is a parent’s responsibility to find a school that they believe best fits their children’s needs; and for that reason I have never criticized Bloomberg, Bill Gates, Rhee or anyone for sending their own children to any school, whether private, charter or public. What I have criticized is when powerful and wealthy individuals send their children to schools that feature very small classes, lots of art, music, etc., and little or no standardized testing, but then advocate for an entirely different kind of education for other children.
The evidence is crystal clear that all kids benefit from smaller classes, but especially poor and minority kids, and yet these children are LEAST likely to have access to them. The efforts of the corporate reformers mentioned above who have advocated for increasing class size, especially in large urban districts, while ensuring that their own children are provided with small classes is wrong. I will continue my life’s work to try to improve the opportunity for all kids to be provided with small classes, as well as adequate and fair funding, an end to high stakes testing, and a voice for parents in decision-making, and to call out hypocrisy wherever I see it.