An Alternative Vision for Public Education–A Patoral Letter on Federal Policy in Public Education: An Ecumenical Call for Justice, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA.
This is one pretty great letter and I would urge you to read it.
Here are a few “choice” excerpts:
Not only has the language of the marketplace entered discussions of school governance and management, but we also notice that the language of business accountability is used to talk about education, a human endeavor of caring. The primary mechanism of the No Child Left Behind Act has been annual standardized tests of reading and math for all children in grades 3-8, followed by punishments for the schools that cannot rapidly reach ever increasing test score production targets. We worry that our society has come to view what is good as what can be measured and compared. The relentless focus on testing basic skills has diminished our attention to the humanities, the social studies, the arts, and child and adolescent development. As people of faith we do not view our children as products to be tested
While competitive, market based “reforms” may increase educational opportunity for a few children, or even for some groups of children, do they introduce more equity or more inequity into the system itself?
In so-called “portfolio school districts” which are projected to manage an ongoing churn of new schools coming into existence and weak schools being forced to close, won’t closing public schools and moving the students increase student mobility in cities where poverty already means that too many children change schools too often? What is the consequence for a neighborhood or a community when a public school is closed or its entire staff fired?
What happens to children whose parents, for whatever reason, do not participate in choice? We recently heard students whose families simply bring them to register at the neighborhood public school called “over the counter” children. Many of us and many of our children have at some time in our lives been “over the counter” children. We have assumed that universally available and easily accessible public schools were part of the American Dream.