Thursday, February 11, 2016

Other parents and other children, Part III: a mid-winter rant

Driving this philosophy a bunch of oppositions, some embedded within others.

First we have what’s good enough for my kid is good enough for your kid:

1. My kid loves science fair projects so yours should, too.

2. My kid had no trouble reading Beowulf in 7th grade, so your kid shouldn’t either.

3. My kid has no trouble working in groups/doing oral presentations/explaining his answer to math problems, so your kid shouldn’t either.

Underlying message 1: …unless there’s something wrong with your kid (too much screen time? lack of curiosity? cognitive impairments? social pathology?)

Underlying message 2: …unless there’s something so incredible about my kid that it’s impossible for me to imagine that other kids can’t do even 50% of what s/he can do.

Then there’s what’s good enough for your kid isn’t good enough for my kid. This group includes:

1. People who oppose school choice but have school choice themselves (i.e., the ability to pay for private school or move to a different district).

2. People who oppose selective charter schools, but send their kids to selective schools.

3. People who think publicly funded schools shouldn’t remove disruptive kids, but make sure their own kids’ classrooms are disruptor-free.

4. Parents who oppose tracking and ability-based grouping, but make sure their own kids attend high-level classes with high-level peers.

5. Parents who say charters and vouchers are destroying public education, but opt their own kids out of public education.

6. Parents who lament the college admissions rat race and say that SAT scores and what college you go to don't matter but, when the time comes, hire tutors and SAT coaches and stuff their kids’ schedules with after-school activities.

Particularly galling is the overlap between the two groups. On the one hand, what’s good enough for my kid is good enough for your kid; on the other hand, what’s good enough for your kid isn’t good enough for my kid.

Of course, this isn’t a contradiction: just a set-theoretic hierarchy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Parents who oppose tracking and ability-based grouping, but make sure their own kids attend high-level classes with high-level peers."

The schools around us have embraced pedagogies that exaggerate peer effects (collaborative learning) at the same time that they've eliminated ability grouping in elementary school and honors classes in junior high.

And then they wonder why so many middle class parents are running away from the Title 1 schools in our district.

Nobody's running from the schools that have a large percentage of highly educated parents though.