The Education Gap

The education gap has been a hot topic in recent weeks:

At Education Week, Deborah Meier writes about Addressing the Gap Between the Rich and ‘Others’ and Stephen Sawchuk reports  on a Sociology of Education paper in Within Schools, Novice Teachers Paired With Struggling Students.  Jennifer Hemmingsen at The Gazette touched on the same study in her column Do schools reinforce achievement gaps?  Over at Apt. 11d they have been discussing No Rich Child Left Behind from the New York Times.

This comment by cranberry  at Apt. 11d particularly struck me:

I am very worried about the sales job being done to push computerized education. As prophesied in an Atlantic article some decades ago, it does seem the poor will have computers, while the rich will have teachers.

So when I read Shawn Cornally’s Transforming School is About Options, Not “Getting it Right” about education options in the corridor I couldn’t help noticing that most of them require the financial ability to opt out of the public school system.

Why aren’t we seeing more options offered in Iowa public schools?

In a recent blog post on the freedom to quit, Peter Gray hints at one possible answer:

Governments can brutalize people who can’t leave.  When people can leave, governments have to figure out how to make people want to stay; or else there will be nobody left to govern.  The first to leave are often those who are most competent and valuable.

Gray then goes on to observe that “[i]n general, children are the most brutalized of people, not because they are small and weak, but because they don’t have the same freedoms to quit that adults have.”

When schooling is compulsory, schools are, by definition, prisons.  A prison is a place where one is forced to be and within which people are not free to choose their own activities, spaces, or associates. Children cannot walk away from school, and within the school children cannot walk away from mean teachers, oppressive and pointless assignments, or cruel classmates.

It is great to have a mix of independent school options, but is this how we want it–options only for those who can afford to walk away from the public schools?