Tuesday, November 11, 2008


The Foundation of a Society is the Education of it's Youth - Diogenes

You can go to a ski shop and get a good fit for an average foot, right out of the box. For oddball feet, you'll pay more for the custom boot fitting. For the race fit, you'll definitely pay more and you'll be more involved in the work. But you're a racer for whom fractions of a percent are important. You're in the right-hand end of the right side of the distribution.

You can go to the supermarket and get good meat for a good price, right out of the display. You have choices galore, but not every choice. A good deal for a good price for an average customer. If you want specialized, you go to the butcher and you pay more and you get exactly what you want. If what you wanted was already in the display, you'd be foolish to go to the butcher, wouldn't you?

You should get the same for education. The "government-run" schools should provide a good education for the average student, right out of the box. If you want Catholic - you pay to send him to parochial school. If you want specialized, you should have to provide that, too. If you want a charter school and all the perks, pay up. If you want to homeschool, then you should contribute the time and energy.

It's time for schools to stop trying to provide extraordinary education for the average price. The multi-million dollar facilities for athletics are too much. The million-dollar, 20 seat computer lab is over the top. The TV station is an extra the voters shouldn't have to pay for - especially since the cable outlets are providing one for free - cable access LOVES schools.

We provide the education. Free, Appropriate, Public, Education. But it needs to be on our terms. If you'd like to take advantage of it, then you are welcome to do so. Your child comes to the school and takes the courses we offer. We try to schedule to fit everyone and disappoint no one - ideally of course.

We ask that your child fit in and not raise waves - not because we're trying to "beat him down intellectually" but because we're trying to do the most for everyone.

We look like a mall because we have to. Explain another way to put 60-100 classrooms in a small location with wheeled access to every room and we'll probably build that way. You can't, though.

We run on a model that resembles a factory, not because we want to be grimy and dangerous, hurtful and uninterested, but because we need to service a whole lot of people and one-to-one isn't efficient.

I have 15-20 in my classes at a time, but not because we're warehousing them or coddling teachers. We've looked around and found that that is simply the most productive number. It's not that I couldn't teach 30 at once. It's not that I'm trying to keep the maximum number of teachers employed. I know that 18 is the perfect size because I've had both fewer and more over the last 25 years, and that's the best.

We the voters are paying for this because we want to provide this education to the town's children. No vouchers to some other school or district. No demands that we meet every whim of fickle parents who have little experience with anyone under 18 who isn't their own kid. If you have 1 kid or 8 kids, the price is free. There is no tuition. The town is providing this service collectively and taxing itself to do so. Like the road over the mountain, my helping to repave it has nothing to do with whether I ever drive on it. Take advantage of it or not, that's your choice.

Just stop complaining that it needs to go away.

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