sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

January 28, 2011

Uncomfortablablablable Choices

Filed under: education — Tags: , , — edge of the sandbox @ 11:36 pm

Where is the superman for our middle class schools?  So many middle class parents pay federal, state and local taxes, a portion of which is allocated to educational programs, AND send our kids to private schools.  Even when public schools are not bad, the taxpayer is still getting ripped of because charters could deliver the same quality education at a lower price.

Our neighborhood public school is underperforming even by the state’s standard, so we are considering moving, but not before we check out public, private and charter schools in the East Bay Area.  A few nights ago I went to one of the local charter school fares.  The sole  elementary represented was Nea Community Learning Center.  A community learning center?  What do they do there, community organize?  Nea passed out fliers with some sort of a graphic representing “nine Nea principles”.

Creepy and cultish!

None of those principals refer to learning.  It’s OK, I suppose, because “Nea” comes from an African proverb “Those who do not know, can know by learning.”  Mmmm… perhaps it flows better in the original.  But don’t despair, Nea is a green campus.  Yay!

The worst thing about the flier was a quote by a tenth grader praising the “level of comfortability” in the school.  Comfortability, is it even a word?  It is, I checked.  But is it a good word?  Certainly not.  My suspicion is that the concept of comfortability was invented by a grad student in the process of writing her dissertation on… comfortability.  It is certainly not a word I expect a well-spoken young woman to use.  It’s mind-boggling that Nea teachers didn’t understand that they are embarrassing a student.  It’s shameful that it take s a person who learned to speak English in her late teens to point it out.  It’s ironic that here in the Bay we praise ourselves for our intelligence, and locals mock school marquees with misspelled words across middle America.

Although I’m underwhelmed by school choices for a family like ours, I hope one day there will be a charter school good enough for my children.  Local middle class parents put their kids into gimmicky charters.  Those schools emphasize multiculturalism or some such nonsense. The character of local charters expresses the wishes of local parents, and most local parents want PC.  Thanks to people like them we already have PC in public schools across the nation.  The charters here are like public schools in their orientation, only more so.

I don’t like the fact that charters often praise themselves for being innovative.  I want less innovation in education.  I want old school.  I want to return to the 50s and early 60s, the golden age of American education, when the country was challenged to enter the space race.  I want a school with academics as a gimmick.  Gosh, maybe this should be our Sputnik moment.  I know there should be a sizable minority of parents in the Bay Area who want learning-learning for their kids.  No “multiculturalism”, no green campuses, no zero tolerance for bullying (as if teachers looked the other way until a year ago), but teachers who provide structure, challenge youngsters and inspire the love of learning.  A campus like that should eventually emerge in a deregulated educational environment.



  1. Man, I had no idea that a charter school could end up being more PC than Public School itself. And those symbol-principles do not help me with my comfortability at all.

    Comment by nooneofanyimport — January 30, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

  2. “And those symbol-principles do not help me with my comfortability at all.”
    Ha-ha! Too funny.

    Comment by edgeofthesandbox — January 30, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

  3. How about doing a little community organizing of your own. If enough parents get together and demand an academic focus in the local public school, there could be a response. Certainly it would be publicly embarrassing to the administration to oppose such a demand.
    It works for the mult-culti folks.

    Comment by alcogito — February 11, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

    • alcogito,
      Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog. You are right, of course, I should be more active. Unfortunately, I don’t see eye to eye with most moms around here. And when I do, they seem to settle for below average schools. Regardless, most of the battles are still ahead.
      I do want to see more school choice because it’s the surest way to get positive change in education.

      Comment by edgeofthesandbox — February 11, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

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