Sunday, April 25, 2010

Just wondering ... what do you think?

At the risk of duplicating a recent Facebook entry ---

I've found myself with a new pot to learn about and perhaps stew over.  Private school education.  At the elementary and secondary levels.  Now don't, as Ray used to say, get your buns in an uproar,.  I am a product of private school education.  I acknowledge, even if I don't always like, the need for public schools to be inclusive (a very good thing) and secular (not always so good), or at least accepting of the differing beliefs of their students.  Modify that.  I am old enough to expect schools, public or private, to be safe places where students are respectful of each other and their teachers, and don't have to worry about getting shot, knifed, raped, drugged, beaten, bullied or robbed in the course of an average day.

When I elect to send my children to a private school operated by a particular cultural, ethnic or religious group, do I have a right to complain when those children are exposed to or required to learn the values, language, and/or culture of the sponsoring group?  Should I expect that their values and traditions will be taught, practiced and upheld?  If my traditions and values are different, should I expect my traditions and values to be taught as well?  Remember, I made a choice to send my children to this school; it was not forced on me.

Should a private school have the right to require that their students meet certain minimum qualifications not imposed on public school students?  Those MQ's might involve academic ability, a special skill set nourished by the schools (I am thinking specifically of music, dance or theatrical schools which combine an academic curriculum with their artistic training), ethnicity or religious preference.  They might include something that has not yet occurred to me.  

What about dress codes?  If it is a Muslim school, should non-Muslim females be required to wear the headscarf (hijab)?  Or burkah?  If it is a Jewish school, should all males be required to wear the yarmulke or kippot? If nuns no longer wear habits, why do I see the girls from Sacred Heart Academy (Catholic) wearing the same uniform their counterparts were wearing 60+ years ago?  Is there an advantage to putting students in uniform?   The schools I attended did not require them.  We had another set of dress codes. Most related to whether girls could wear slacks to school (exception made on the days we worked in the cafeteria), when you had to wear shoes, and what constituted a shoe (as opposed to the far more casual slippers -- the footwear you mainland folk refer to as flip-flops).

Remember that we are talking only about private schools.  Schools that do not receive tax dollar funding.  Schools which might be supported by their sponsoring organizations, donations from alumni and friends, or raised by the efforts of students and parents.  Schools for which a  tuition (often hefty) is paid by parents, grandparents or by scholarships. Schools which exist to offer something other than (or in addition to) what is taught in public schools.

What about Charter Schools?  They get public money.  Some US Charter Schools teach in a language other than English.  Some cater to a specific skill set -- math, physical sciences, music, the arts.

Here's what Wikipedia says about Charter Schools.
Charter schools are elementary or secondary schools ... that receive public money (and like other schools, may also receive private donations) but have been freed from some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school's charter. Charter schools are opened and attended by choice. While charter schools provide an alternative to other public schools, they are part of the public education system and are not allowed to charge tuition. Where enrollment in a charter school is over subscribed, admission is frequently allocated by lottery-based admissions. In a 2008 survey of charter schools, 59% of the schools reported that they had a waiting list, averaging 198 students.  Some charter schools provide a curriculum that specializes in a certain field ...

I am particularly interested in the view of those who elect to send their children to private  or charter schools.  I'm also interested in the views of private school administrators.  Or the views of students who are passionate about private school education.  

Give thanks for those who teach in elementary and secondary schools, for they are woefully underpaid and under-appreciated.  Give thanks for our differences, for they are to our experience as spices are to our cooking.  

Don't forget to pray.  ... 

1 comment:

  1. Too much to post here; check:

    (I don't think you will get too mad at me!!) :-)


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