Tests tell us our educational system is failing on a local, state and national level. One must conclude that the causes are systemic and universal. Is there anyone who would argue that education is not a pillar of a strong economy and a high standard of living? Universal public education has been the backbone of creating the greatest country in human history. Do we agree that "something" needs to be done?
What are the root causes of failing schools?
We make the failure call based on the results of tests given to the students. So if the students are failing, perhaps it is the student's fault. Or is it the teacher's fault? Perhaps we should replace the teachers rather than move the students.
Perhaps the problem is the administration of the schools. Is the space conducive to learning? Is there discipline? Are the materials adequate? Are the class sizes conducive to learning? Is the curriculum well-conceived?
Perhaps it is the school boards, who hire the administrators and teachers and oversee budgets that provide the space, learning materials, teachers and administrators. Is the educational failure the fault of the school boards? Perhaps the school board members should be replaced.
Well, perhaps it is all of the above and we should abandon all of the suspected problem causes. Let's cut and run and create a whole new system. Let's give parents the money and rely on their good judgment. Oops. We forgot to look at parents as a potential cause of the educational dilemma. But how do we correct that? Do we remove the custody of the parent if the student is failing?
Oh well. Let's just move.
If we lived in a home with a leaky roof and faulty plumbing, wouldn't it make sense to buy a completely new home and just move? But wait. While that sounds like a solution, can we afford it? And what becomes of the abandoned home?
Let's do a model and think it through. School district A is a failing school and charter school B purports to have the answer. Note that B has no significant history of educational performance. B needs to build a new building (or remodel an already existing one), hire teachers, hire administrators, purchase educational materials and create a supervisory board to oversee its operation.
School district A must now reduce its teachers, and administrators, its space needs and the learning materials needed. So now A has excess space. What do they do with it?
As for B, where do they get the teachers (superior to the abandoned teachers), the administrators (superior to the abandoned administration) and the space (superior to the abandoned space) and the overseeing board (superior to school district A's board)?
And by the way, how is all that duplication paid for? Do you have any doubt that the duplication and abandonment are highly expensive? Whether it is local, state or federal monies, it comes out of my pocket and yours, Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer.
Frankly, if I lived in a house with a leaky roof and faulty plumbing, I would look at the option of repairing rather than abandoning it. And by the way, what happens if the new home you bought to replace the one with the leaky roof and faulty plumbing has defects and flaws? Does your logic tell you to abandon it and buy another? If you can't afford it, send the bill to the government. They, in turn, will tax you and me to pay for your new home. Get the picture?
In closing, I must say that I personally like the idea of the International Baccalaureate School. While I am aware of the increased cost, it is a step in a preferred direction of consolidation of school districts.
Just a thought.
-- Don Hake is a parent, grandfather, retired teacher and a very stressed York City taxpayer.