Re: the right to purse excellence

Cathy Pauline Lachapelle (aelin@leland.Stanford.EDU)
Thu, 1 May 1997 23:46:58 -0700 (PDT)

> > The individual parents (and kids) would be able to vote with their
> > feet for the best ones.
> That IS what is necessary. Only, I agree with Scott, that there will
> not be a real choice because all schools will be required to meet
> minimum government standards to qualify.
> Deborah

I think you're overstating the power of the federal government here.
Goals 2000 is nothing but show. Even most states have very little power
compared to local school districts. And districts can in fact be quite
different from each other.

As for Colby's question about education, I agree that most schools don't
do anything that's fit to be called education (it's more like
indoctrination). But that doesn't mean public schools *can't* respect
students as human beings. Some do. An educative environment, I
submit, is one where there are resources in the form of
information, tools, and people which are available for those
seeking learning to make use of. This does not, in principle,
exclude public schools. Someone (amy?) pointed out that alternative
schools are increasing in numbers. Schools in general, I submit, are
moving away from authoritarian models, and toward respect of children's
intelligence and autonomy. This is not to say that I think they are
anywhere near respectibility now (at least, not 99% of them). But must we
abandon the public school system, which most of our country (and the
world) embraces, and devote ourselves solely to the Sudbury model (or any
one model?) It is the principle of respect for young people's autonomy
and intelligence that I support, and I for one will continue to work for
change (no matter how slow) in all schools.

Just a small point: I would like to point out that learning is not free,
not for us. Where economic systems are based on work that is done in the
community (weaving, potting, house-building), then children may learn by
simply being in the community. But where we divide our work from
children, we must invest in tools and resources and people to be available
-- the "library" model seems a good one to me, too, here -- and such
things are not free (or even cheap). The $4000 for Sudbury may not be as
much as most schools spend, but it is certainly not nothing. And for
homeschooling parents, there are still books and tools to buy, and the
cost (not nothing) of one parent keeping herself or himself out of the job