Thursday, September 14, 2006

One more reason why we homeschool

Here in Massachusetts, 2006 is a gubernatorial election year. Right now, we're being treated to the spectacle of three Democratic candidates seeing who can pander furthest to the left. Not being registered to vote in the Democratic primary and having already seen enough to know that I'd never vote for any of the three, I've watched very little of the debates. But I caught a little bit of last night's debate on the radio, and it re-inforced for me, yet again, how glad I am that we've chosen to homeschool our kids. This was my reaction to a question, and the answers, on the public schools in Massachusetts.

The question to the candidates, posed by moderator Jon Keller, actually came from a citizen of the commonwealth.
My husband and I are spending money we can't afford on a private school for our seventh grader because the local middle school refuses to allow tracking and instead lumps our advanced reader in with kids learning at a much slower rate. They get special services, we get the shaft. We're told this is all about being "inclusive," but it excludes us from getting a fair shake for our son and a fair value for our tax dollars. Will you order the public schools, if you're elected, to restore tracking based on ability?

The question, I'll admit, caught me a little bit by surprise. I was unaware that the school system didn't "track" or "group" children by demonstrated ability. That was certainly never the case when I was in school. In junior high, the groups were labeled with different colors, but everyone understood what they meant. There are some kids who are going to be capable of reading and appreciating A Tale Of Two Cities or Hamlet as freshman and sophomores, and some for whom ever getting through A Wrinkle In Time will be a great accomplishment. Some will breeze through The Waste Land, other will struggle with The Outsiders. That's reality. There are kids who can easily get through Trigonometry and Calculus before they finish high school, and others who aren't ever going to finish Algebra. The idea that you'd lump them into one classroom and expect them all to thrive is just silly.

But not to the Democrats running for Governor in Massachusetts. Look again at that question. Slam Dunk, right?

Wrong.

Tom Reilly: "No, I will not." (It's nice, I guess, to get an unequivocal answer to a question from one of these guys, but what an answer!)

Chris Gabrieli: Listening live, I thought I heard him basically agree with Reilly. Looking through the transcript, I don't actually see an answer. I'm uncertain whether he just blathered, or whether the transcript's incomplete.

Deval Patrick: "I do reject tracking,"

(The full transcript of their answers can be seen here.)

Sometimes, you'd think that common sense, reality, would begin to intrude in the fantasy world these guys live in, but apparently not. Here's more from Reilly: "I believe in giving every one of our kids and every one of our children the opportunity to be whatever they can be and go as far as they can be." How, exactly, he thinks that's going to happen if he groups children of vastly disparate native ability in the same classroom is beyond me. What happens is you have teachers who, in order to get anything done, have to teach to the bottom half of the middle third. You lose kids at the bottom who can't keep up. You lose kids at the top who are bored out of their minds. But, to the radical egalitarians on the American political left, that's apparently how you give everyone the "opportunity to be whatever they can be."

It's obviously nonsense. You can't serve ANYONE'S best interest that way, never mind everyone's That doesn't mean that you're throwing anyone away. God created everyone with different talents, abilities and interests. The best interests of some kids are served by getting them into rigorous math courses that have them completing Calculus before graduation. There are others who are best served by making sure that they can add and subtract, and have some concept of what to do with fractions and percentages. There's no way that that can all be best accomplished by having them all in the same math class.

And we're all paying for that system.

In more ways than one...


Technorati tags: Reilly, Gabrieli, Patrick, Homeschool, Massachusetts, education

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