choices we could make

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Empathetic Mapping: Redrawing Chicago to Examine School Choice | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network: "The ability of school choice to promote competition throughout the entire CPS depends on the accessibility of high performing schools to students in low performing areas. In the absence of this, as one witnesses in Chicago, the school system fractures, partially along the lines of pre-existing racial and socioeconomic division. This is not to say that the idea of school choice is broken. Indeed, this most recent study appears to confirm that competition causes students to leave underperforming schools. What is up to question, though, is the extent to which this works for all communities. At best, school choice represents an improvement to a stagnant school system with few pressures for improvement. However, it cannot be viewed as a panacea, especially for hard to reach students living in hard to reach neighborhoods.
The idea of creating a so-called market of schools that allows some very limited choice seems so convoluted and strange to me when parents cannot make any real choices in the schools they now attend.

Most students are lucky to choose an elective in high school or perhaps a program to enter, all rationed out with gatekeeping tests and requirements. Families cannot choose either additional services or part-time attendance because the factory model doesn't allow it. Its all or nothing: everyone goes longer hours or no one does.

This is because the factory model means content has to be inculcated into each student and eventually the content and skills training gets each one certified with a diploma. We are trying to mass-produce kids to an arbitrary specification. Adding a citizenship class isn't the same as working in a democratic way with families to provide learning services.

We do not have to do it this way. If families could make choices of classes and activities, we would have the accountability that some complain is not present. Families could shape their lives to better support their children.

Just as we need structural supports for families, like paid sick days and maternity leave policies, we also need to have families making more choices within schools. Families need to be nurtured as important social structures in our society.

Technology provides ways to link schools and network learning spaces and kids in new ways. Every child needs a neighborhood school as a hub but we could provide ways for kids to interact across a wider scale, building social networks that strengthen our social capital and reduce segregation.

What we have instead is this strange experiment of creating a market of schools for some to shop in. It must be about the money because it doesn't make any sense at all when looked at from either the city planning pov or an education opportunity pov.

The educational opportunities have never been broader even as the so-called public system, never fully public for families, narrows our choices to a tiny fake choice that moves money into bank accounts and helps a few but not much else.

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