John Dewey said it more than a century ago, and it is still true: What the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community. Anything less is unlovely and, unchecked, destroys our democracy. (Forgive the paraphrase, but that is close to exactly right from memory.)
Here Leonie Haimson, New York City’s leading parent advocate, gives the same advice to President Obama. She calls on him to get rid of the test-driven policies of Race to the Top, which are ruining the public schools, and stop the privatizing.
What a terrible legacy is would be for President Obama if he left the presidency four years from now with a record of having used federal funds to disestablish public education in city after city, state after state.
Instead of pauperizing, standardizing, digitizing and privatizing education, we know what works to increase opportunities for children. Just witness the sort of education Obama’s own daughters receive: small classes with plenty of personal attention from experienced teachers, a well-rounded education with art, science and music, and little or no standardized testing. By instituting these reforms in the 1970s, Finland was able to turn around its school system and now outranks nearly all other nations in student achievement. If it’s good enough for Malia and Sasha, it should be good enough for inner-city public school students in New York City or Chicago.