schools could help us address poverty

Daily Kos: Don’t ask schools to fix society’s problems:  From the post:

Once we confront the fact that schools alone cannot eradicate poverty—that school outcomes are primarily a reflection of social inequity and not school quality—we must implement education reform that addresses the ways in which our schools currently perpetuate social inequities through school practices—including the following:
• Confront and end deficit views of learning broadly and of children living in poverty narrowly.Programs such as those offered by Ruby Payne must be rejected for their baseless claims and we must re-imagine how we view poverty—particularly in terms of it resulting from social dynamics and not from the people trapped in the condition.
• Reduce and eventually eliminate our test culture in schools. Standardized testing, such as the SAT, remains biased by social class, gender, and race. The continued use of testing to label and stratify children can only perpetuate, not erase, inequity. 
• End tracking and gate-keeping policies that block children from rich course offerings.
and he concludes:
"No child chose the conditions of her or his home, and to ask children living lives in poverty just to work harder is a cruel and unfair request, particularly when it comes from adults living lives of privilege and affluence.

Social reform addressing the lives of children is educational reform."
I would go further and say that if schools that were reconfigured to provide learning services that allowed all families to have control over what services they use, this could be a way of helping us address poverty. Real choice would allow a more healthy social climate to develop.  Choice would allow parents to ensure that students and classes were a good fit and parents could monitor stress and have ways to shape their child's experiences.  Wealthy and middle-class families already have many choices that they use to protect and support their children. Poor parents need choices even more as they do not have the money to buy these services for their child.

If a parent has Wednesdays off and wants a child to be home that day, it could happen. Supporting that child in his family is that important: classes and learning situations can be adapted. A happy child will learn more. This is an example of the type of thing we routinely accept as impossible due to the needs of efficiency.  Efficiency for who? A happy child will always learn more and faster, so the efficiency is not about learning: it is about a centralized model built when everyone worked agricultural jobs and government was viewed as a patrician duty. It is about how compulsory attendance ensured that there was no feedback within the system that could create change and limit overbuild.

Expansion of services, in time and days, would be high on the list of desired services for poorer parents who want stuff for their kids to do. Summer, Saturdays, and evenings are all times when learning services should be available. Families making the on-the-ground decisions, class by class, can help avoid everything from bullying to burnout to disengagement. Children could get support from their families because their families would have real power, like families with money do. There is no master plan in the world that could accomplish that targeted social and physical adjustment: it must come from the people involved. Parents who could drive the services offered would transform schools not just by what they wanted but by how real choice would allow them to shape their lives. 

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