Monday, March 17, 2008

Success and Private Schools

Racine Unified School Board Members recently wrote a full commentary in the Racine Journal Times. I would like to focus on one thing that they have written. Here it is:

"If there is one thing we can all agree on, it's that the success of Racine County and the district are tied to each other."

Is this really something we all agree on? I, for one, do not agree with this statement.

I say that the failings of Racine County and the failings of Unified are very much tied to each other. I also say that success is highly correlated with a good education. The success of Racine County is tied to education, I would agree, but is it necessarily tied only to Racine Unified? In other words, there are schools other than those within Unified that can educate children and help lead to success for Racine County.

In a nutshell, the problem I have with the statement by the school board members is the assumption that only Unified can educate children and lead our county forward. This erroneous assumption ignores the many highly successful private schools that exist within our community. If we are going to speak of countywide education strategies, we should recognize the valuable contributions of the many private schools in Racine County.

12 comments:

We Get It said...

Dennis,

We get it ... you support private schools as an alternative to public education. Instead of repeating this over and over, try investigating education in Racine. What would it take to break Unified's monopoly on local education? How is the teacher's union holding back meaningful reform? What can be done to start more private schools? Is home schooling a viable option? (Including, what access do home-school students have to Unified classes?)

Black churches in Racine could do a better job educating black students than Unified, and the same goes for Hispanics. So what could be done to start a private school movement in the city?

There has to be a better way. Unified doesn't seem particularly interested in working with its poor and troubled students ... who is going to create an alternative system for these kids? Shouldn't the market be responding to an obvious gap in local education? Why isn't it? What needs to change?

Dennis, use this blog to break new ground. Zero in on where you see the problems/barriers, and write about those. This would be important work.

Denis Navratil said...

to we get it: Your criticism has merit and I am guilty of being repetitive on the subject. And I am flattered that you think I could do more.

And don't think I haven't thought about doing more. But exploring these important issues in greater depth takes time, time that I don't have. I would love to spend my days researching important local issues and writing about them in my own newspaper. I have given this much consideration. But I can't think of a way to do this without seriously harming the business that puts food on the table. If there were a way that I could step out of my business without harming it and without unfairly burdening my wife, I would do so in a minute. If you have any ideas as to how I might do this, I am all ears.

In my own defense, I don't know of anyone locally who is more vocal than I am on this issue. I believe I have an ability to articulate the reasons for real school reform, but I am not so sure that I am the one to build the political movement that would be needed to bring about these needed changes. People need to get off the sidelines and get involved. I can't bring about school vouchers by myself. I wish I could.

Anonymous said...

"...Black churches in Racine could do a better job educating black students than Unified..."

This seems somewhat segregationalist.

How about, "White churches, and white parochial schools could do a better at educating white and/or gifted students than Unified..." Do you agree with this statement?

Caledonication said...

I thought Denis was writing about the problems and barriers? I thought the whole idea behind this blog was to "put it out there", have others share their insight, offer possible solutions and hash out some of the more concerning issues and aspects of Racine. Ideally, all dialogue would work toward accomplishing this goal. Aside from having to put up with the constant fly-bys, I know for a fact that Denis and most of the regular readers of Free Racine are completely open to intelligent discourse.

I think Denis ends up repeating the same subjects (which he considers important) over and over, because it seems like a nearly impossible task to get an intelligent dialogue started. Even when it appears to have started, some troll shows up to announce, “o yur soo stoopid denis, look at me, i got the password to my Moms cumputer”. When we ask questions based on those comments which appear to be initiating a dialogue, no response is forthcoming or the questions are ignored. If there is a response, it is either changing the subject or it turns into a personal attack.

Could one man have all the answers? No, but if we can challenge each other to think about the questions from different perspectives, we may eventually find some common logical ground. Then we could work together to solve at least some of the problems.

Denis, might I suggest that a list of guidelines be established for your blog? Some forums are actually very strict about this. If it's nonsense, it gets deleted. If it's off subject, it gets deleted. If it is nothing more than a personal attack, it gets deleted. Maybe establish some guidelines and have a trial run? See if it helps at all. Additionally, I know you are against it, but you may consider requiring log in to post comments.

Anonymous said...

Denis, remember that although private schools may provide a better learning experience than public schools, not all people can afford them.

Denis Navratil said...

anon 4:06, collectively we spend about $13,000 per child at Unified. Every private school in Racine County has a tuition rate lower than that. You say that not all people can afford private schools and you are right. However, the reason that they can't afford private schools is because of our own self imposed political constraints. We have allowed our government to take huge amounts of money from us while preventing us from using said money for a private education if desired. This unwise public policy is being challenged all over this country. We have school vouchers in Milwaukee, for example, and tax credits for private education in some states. The reason some people can not afford a private education is a political problem, not a financial one.

Anonymous said...

To some it is a financial problem because they would rather spend the money on 200 tv channels, ATVs, and text messaging bills.

Anonymous said...

Denis, if every child went to a private school, it would be the same as having all public schools. Private schools can reject any student from coming if they feel that it would ruin the environment (kids with mental/physical health issues, etc.)this is also one of the reasons why public school tuition is as high as it is. Also, the cost of a public school education is more like $8,000 a year, not $13,000.

Denis Navratil said...

anon 5:50, I don't think all children should attend private schools, nor have I ever said or written any such thing. We would be better off if parents had more choices than just RUSD. It is extremely doubtful that all parents would want to send their children to private schools. Also, you are way off on your per student costs at RUSD. I have analyzed Unified's budget in previous years. I don't have the exact numbers right now, but Unified spent over $250 million to educate roughly 21,000 students. And their spending has increased every year despite the nonsense you hear about budget cuts. Do the math anon.

Anonymous said...

Have you read the reports on charter schools and education results in Wisconsin?

Charter schools are scoring WORSE!

Anonymous said...

Right wing naysayers against RUSD...the ancient sport in Racine.

Change society and injustice, and you change the world.

But you all seem to like inequality.

Caledonication said...

There you go:

Free private schooling, right here.