Monday, August 10, 2015

Forward-looking superintendent says ‘a one-size-fits-all approach is not effective’

In a recent blog post containing an admirable and honest bit of self-examination (“A Long Gaze in the Mirror”), Sand Springs assistant superintendent Rob Miller made the point that there are many policies and practices in the public school system—“self-inflicted wounds,” some of them—which Mr. Miller believes could be unhealthy. This one caught my eye:
Allowing parents to make choices about placement (gifted/talented pods, magnet schools, selective programs) to keep their child away from “those kids.”
It seems to me there are a few troubling assumptions baked into that statement. First, notice the word “allowing.” School leaders are granting permission to the people who are paying their salaries.

Second, notice that school officials are allowing parents to make choices. It’s well-known that the hireling doesn’t care for the sheep like the shepherd does. And yet the assumption here is that the very people who conceived and bore the children, who love the children more than any government official ever could, shouldn’t be permitted to direct their children’s path.

Third, Mr. Miller appears to assume jurisdiction over some parents’ motives—and to ascribe dishonorable ones. Isn’t it possible that parents could have valid educational reasons—reasons that have nothing to do with “those kids”—for wanting particular educational options for their children? In any case, regardless of the parents' motives, I refer you to the two preceding paragraphs.

Alberto M. Carvalho
In stark contrast, note the actions of another school administrator that very same day. Alberto M. Carvalho, the superintendent of the Miami-Dade County Public Schools, unveiled 53 new choice and magnet program offerings for the new school year—bringing the district’s total number of choice programs to more than 500.

“Students and teachers of Miami-Dade County Public Schools are in for another exciting year of innovative programs and initiatives,” he said. “We understand that a one-size-fits-all approach is not effective. That said, we have once again tailored our educational programs to meet the personalized needs of students and provide them with specialized resources to ensure they have every opportunity to excel academically.”

Mr. Carvalho is the same superintendent who last year said, “Rather than complain about the incoming tsunami of choice, we’re going to ride it.”

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