People Are More Than Grades

A student’s academic ability is important. The fact that a student works hard to make progress is more important than her/his academic ability. In today’s testing society, in today’s environment where a student sits in a single-teacher classroom with 30 other students for 40 minutes of rushed geometry, in a society where someone as blatantly insecure and self-involved as Donald Trump is the commander-in-chief, it is also imperative that students continuously learn to care for themselves as individuals whose value is more than their academic abilities. This is not to say that academic performance is not important. It is just noting that academic performance is not the only factor in a student’s long-term, overall success in life. As a nation, we need to work on finding the balance between encouraging academic excellence, creativity, & growth and self love & love for others. In fact, an active conversation on any education policy change should consciously explore and deliberately discuss this balance.

I found the below on Twitter (I do not know who the author is):

More on Informing Parents on School Choice

According to a Times article published last week, Betsy DeVos said the following: “My faith motivates me to really try to work on behalf of and advocate for those who are least able to advocate for themselves.”

I keep asking myself how does this apply to families that do not have the resources to assess different schools available to their child? Whether it is tax dollars funding public schools, religious schools, or private schools, who should be accountable to objectively informing parents and guardians of school options?

We Need More Student Loan Education

The below quote was featured in the New York Times this week. It is absurd that people have been allowed to take out this much money in federal loans to attend a for- profit school that had a history of less than dismal performance. We are not doing enough tho educate people on all things related to student loans/ tax funded loans.

​Another borrower, Victoria Linssen, applied in October for forgiveness on the $50,000 in federal loans that she had taken out to study photography at the Brooks Institute in Ventura, Calif., a for-profit college that shut down last year after extensive regulatory criticism and penalties. The college lied about its accreditation, its job placement rate and the wages its graduates earned, Ms. Linssen said. (emphasis mine)

The Issue with Parent Choice

As I mentioned in my previous post, three weeks ago, Besty DeVos spoke before congress for the first time since her confirmation. Of course, the topic of school choice was consistently brought up. In her responses, DeVos kept framing school choice as parent choice, which is the idea that local governments and parents, above all, know whats best for their child, and they should decide exactly which schools are deserving of those tax dollars. 

But is that true? In theory, it sounds nice, but do all parents inherently know what is best for their child? What i mean to ask is are all parents equipped with tools that will inform them on different types of schools, curriculum, education policy, and school culture that exist? Most middle and upper income families probably have the resources necessary to make an informed decision about their children’s education. But what about families who have a history of/ currently live in poverty? You know, the  families that voucher programs and school choice advocates claim they want to protect? Are these families, who have been exposed to and may only have access to low-performing schools, given the right tools to make a just decision for their children? 

School/parent choice reform assumes that if students are allowed to move around more freely from school to school, then that means they will go to a high quality school. Parents mean well. Parents want the best for the children. But if parents simply do not have the resources to investigate whether or not a school is actually the best school for their child, as opposed to whether the school seems like the best school for their child (via accessible marketing and school representatives who know how to sell a dream), is parent choice, in this respect, more harmful than beneficial? Of course, parents who send their child to what they thought was a good school but turns out to be a bad fit for their child can will send their child to another school. But at that point, the damage is done, and switching from school to school has its own negative effects. So the  real questions are:

  1. What will the Trump/DeVos adminitration do to better inform parents on school choice? 
  2. Is informing parents on educational opportunities yet another issue for states to deal with, if states deem it important? 

Unfortunately, while parents are well intentioned, there are for-profit schools, like k-12, Inc., that prey on those good natured but vulnerable parents. We need to talk about parent and family protections when it comes to school choice. We need to not regard parent education and awareness as a taboo issue. And, yes, we need to be careful to inform parents of options and not push our opinions on whatever we think are the best options.