Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Student Pawns

A common argument against school vouchers is the notion that private schools will skim the best and brightest from the public schools, and that this will contribute to further deterioration of the public schools.

Implicit in this argument is the notion that bright and or well motivated students have an obligation to the school system itself and to poorly motivated or even disruptive students. The idea I suppose is that some type of transfer is supposed to occur wherein good students elevate the performance of lousy students.

I have no doubt that people influence those around them. But what tends to be ommitted from the anti-voucher argument is that influences work both ways. Yes, the A student might positively impact the class clown or the chronic truant. But if that is true, it is also be true that the clowns, truants, and gang bangers may negatively impact the A students. This negative impact I suspect is the reason many parents of means send their children to private schools.

So good students really are pawns. There job is to suffer academically at the hands of kids who disrupt the education process. It is easy to see why public schools need to hang on to these kids. What is not so easy to see is what is in it for the bright and motivated students.


BradK said...

So - as a product of the public school system, I think looking back, I would have been considered a "bright and motivated" kid who graduated with a nice high GPA, went on to college, graduated from there, and now am employed.

I also have friends who have followed suit.

I think the breakdown here might be that there is an assumption that bright and motivated students are destined to be negatively impacted by the rest. There's also the assumption that "bright and motivated" kids are generally speaking children of parents with the means to put them in private schools (mine were not). I would suggest that the non-bright and motivated may just as easily be children of parents with means to send their kids to private schools, right?

Maybe I need to put it more simply - what is YOUR position Denis (given the assumption that you don't explicitly tie financial means to the level of brightness or motivation of a child)?

Denis Navratil said...

My position is that the purpose of a school is to educate children. When a school system uses kids for its own purposes, whether as PR or as unpaid school aids for the disinterested element, then the system is disserving said kids. Those kids might be rich or poor and they might come from "good" families or "bad." Not sure if that answers your question. Oh, and yes, there are kids at private schools who are not bright or interested in learning.

Anonymous said...

Motivation, brightness, and wealth (or lack thereof) should have no place in a discussion of choice.
Like most monopoly or near monopoly systems that we are forced to fund, our education system is not focused enough on its true objective. It is corrupt.

Anonymous said...

do it the 'french' way.. if by 15 years of age, the disinterested students want out.. farewell... kids that can't keep up, enroll in vocational training... the others test into subjects that they then pursue for the next three years, and beyond.

Not sure who equates new buildings with student achievement, nor have I seen that as the reason RUSD is requesting a referendum for additional funds.. however, when buildings cost more to maintain/remodel vs. rebuild, and it has no cultural/historic value...... well, the choice seems clear.

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