Arthur Camins: Why We Should Care About Educating Other People’s Children

Arthur Camins writes in Huffington Post about the importance, the necessity of caring about the education of everyone’s children, not just our own. This is the basic premise of public education. We educate all children because it is our respomsility as citizens. We provide fire and police protection to all, not just to those who can afford to pay for it. We supply clean drinking water because it is a public responsibility, unrelated to ability to pay (unless you live in Flint, Michigan).

Camins writes:

“It is time to care about the education of other people’s children. Other people’s children are or will be our neighbors. Other people’s children– from almost anywhere in the United States and beyond– could end up as our co-workers. Other people’s children are tomorrow’s potential voters. How, what, and with whom they learn impacts us all. That is why we have public schools, paid for with pooled taxes. They are designed to serve the public good- not just to suit individual parent’s desires.

“My granddaughter Ellie is almost two. With each passing day, my wife and I worry more and more about the world in which she will grow up. We worry about what appears to be a celebration of divisiveness, ignorance, helplessness, and selfishness among too many people. We are particularly concerned about whether her education will help prepare her for a happy, successful life in troubled times. I know we are not alone.

“In school–either by intention or by omission– children learn to make sense of the world around them. They learn how to treat other children and adults and how to regard others in the wider community. They learn whether or not they can participate in shaping their lives and that of others. They may or may not learn how to live, collaborate and respect all the different people whom they will inevitably encounter in their lives.

“We can’t avoid it. What other people’s children learn affects each of us….

“The easy short-term answer is, “Just worry about your own child. Do whatever you must to find the best school for her.” That is the thinking behind the current bipartisan embrace of three key features of charter schools and the renewed Republican push for vouchers: Schools competing for student enrollment; Parents competing for their children’s entry into the best-fit school of their choice; Schools governed privately rather than through democratically-elected school boards. As these strategies gain acceptance and spread, the result is to undermine education as a collective effort on behalf of the entire community. Divided parents and their communities end up with little collective voice. Similarly, without unions, teachers have no unified influence. Millions of personal decisions about what appears to be good for a single child at a moment in time is a recipe for divisiveness, not collective good.”

from sarah


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