what real choice would look like

The choice debate is framed within a very narrow band where the choices are almost useless.  Choice means a private school voucher or stay in a public school, perhaps a failing one, it increases privatization and allows takeover of public resources. That's it.

Do you want war in Iraq or Afghanistan? Is that a real choice?

How about these choices:

  • What about all the families that are in just ok schools that want a change?  
  • What about parents who want better food, different schedules, a unique approach to schooling that fits their child's strengths?  
  • What about families who need before and/or afterschool care and want good programs for that?
  • What about kids who can't afford a piano and want lessons which, of course, would be educational but are not in the curriculum? 
  •  What about drop-outs who hate school and want to work or start a business?  
  • Where is the startup incubator with teen mentoring?  
  • What about the absolutely huge numbers of kids who hate the entire grading system and either doubt their own abilities or just give up on lots of subjects entirely: I'm not good at math or I dislike history?  Why can't they just attend and try things and make mistakes without penalty while they find out what they enjoy?  
  • What about having different texts and approaches to the same material?  Homeschoolers can and do adjust to a child's needs but schools cannot because pouring everyone into the same mold is an endless task.  
  • How about 1/3 (or all) of every schedule has real electives -- not the assigned ones but real electives. How about a choice for a 2/3 schedule of classes?  
  • How about a choice to take specific day off, say Wednesday because that's your Dad's only day off?  
  • How about a choice of late afternoon, evening or Saturday classes?  
  • How about a choice of special sessions, if enough enroll? 
  • How about a school database for carpooling and resource sharing? 
  • How about purchasing art materials at a discount with an art club?
We need choice to drive the system, we need families and children making a whole lot of choices all along the way to maximize the quality and target resources most effectively.  And real choices for real families could start right within the schools we already have.  Most kids never get to choose much of anything at all.  Sometimes there is a tightly-controlled elective choice that isn't really a choice either as for most kids, the classes are filled so quick or there are schedule conflicts that make it impossible.  The one fake choice is just a throwaway.  We have a top-down, standardized, factory manufacturing approach to education and working hard to get the factory in tip-top shape will not provide what families need and want.

Compulsory attendance mandates the number of days, the number of hours, the curriculum, and the everything else so that there is absolutely no customization whatsoever or money doesn't flow.  This structure has guided the money along upward paths that include wider and wider circles of bureaucrats and education experts in remote areas.  The focus by schools is up:  toward the city, state and Federal authorities who choose and mandate and centralize the income stream and then pour it all back down, a form of trickle down.

There is absolutely no focus on families and their children, other than policing them if they challenge the income stream. They provide the money and the children and then are told to get out of the way:  experts are in charge.  Compulsory attendance gave the schools a police tool which is a mechanism to resist pushback from the very people they should be serving; it is a relic and with the growing corporate takeover of government, the ill effects of mass schooling in citizens is being felt for what it is: acculturation to hierarchy and passive acceptance of authoritarian structures.

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