Gotham Schools ran a story that questioned why the city’s leading advocate for public schools had enrolled her son in a private high school after many years as a public school parent. The story subtly implied that she may have lost her right to advocate for public schools because she was no longer a parent of a public school student.
Leonie Haimson founded Class Size Matters and is a co-founder of Parents Across America. She is a fearless critic of high-stakes testing and of the Bloomberg administration. She has been the most articulate and persistent supporter of class size reduction. She currently is waging war against the titans who are invading student privacy. She works out of her home with no pay and a shoestring budget.
You can see why powerful people would want to discredit her. She is a force, she has a large following, and she threatens them.
Consider the premise of the article: only public school parents may advocate for public schools.
This is classic corporate reform ideology. Corporate reformers use this specious ideology to argue for the parent trigger, claiming that the school belongs to the parents and they should be “empowered” to seize control and give it to a charter corporation.
This is as wrong as the attack on Haimson.
The public schools belong to the public. They are a public responsibility. Everyone has the right to advocate for them as well as to criticize them.
You don’t have to be a public school parent to care about our public schools. You don’t even have to be a parent. You just need to care about children and the future of our society.
Full disclosure: I am on the board of Class Size Matters. I know Leonie as a woman of intellect, principle, and integrity. Her courage inspires me and many others in the struggle for better schools.
Also, FYI, I am a product of the Houston public schools, K-12. My two grown sons went to private schools in NYC. I have three grandsons. The older two attended religious schools. The youngest is a public school student in Brooklyn. I support public education. That is my right as a citizen, regardless of where my offspring went to school.