Reading Diane Ravitch’s blog every day gladdens my heart that so many people are onto the phony reform movement. When I went to my son’s school for the first time, I met several teachers and administrators and support staff, all of whom seemed quite professional. The students appeared to be 100% Hispanic and about 90% poor. My son describes every day the barriers these students have to climb over, and some are indeed climbing over the barriers. Where does that leave the students who aren’t making it over the barriers? Politicians like to use military metaphors and analogies b/c it makes them sound tough, and one they might use here is boot-camp, where soldiers have to make it through or drop out. Most make it through. But is Basic Training boot-camp the same as the one for the paratroopers, for the Special Forces, for the Rangers, for the Seals and Delta Force? No. It is graduated. So if we had all recruits go through the Seals training, the drop-out rate would be higher.
What we do to these poor kids is concentrated them in certain schools, deprive those schools of adequate funding b/c the parents do not have political or economic clout, then judge the schools against school bond-funded schools in Middle Class, White neighborhoods, and declare the schools failures. We then urge the better students to transfer to charter schools, syphoning off money meant for public schools to the charters, where those students who turn out not to be so “better” drop back to the public school who now lack the money designated for that kid, while the public school has to deal with a student population deprived of a leaven of good students seeking college admission. The proportion of troubled students now goes up, the need for security and social services rises, and politicians take one look and shake their heads, blaming parents, teachers, and the students, but never themselves. After all, the proprietor of a charter school often has contacts in the business community who may be campaign contributors.
To empower the parents makes me think of the union movement, but, other than AFSCME, these parents aren’t in unions. Then I remembered the movie, A Day Without Mexicans, where everyone of Mexican heritage went poof, no more Mexicans in California. What if all Mexicans decided to not work, just one day? What would be the effect? Would the business community rise up to demand “something be done” b/c they lost so much money without their employees? Would stores cry out for all those Mexican customers? It would be interesting.
If it turned out that society missed its Mexicans, that might decide the Hispanic population to organize voter turn-out and union membership drives.