What is the proper function of the school within American society?
To maintain the status quo?
To ensure success from every citizen?
Should we continue to demand constant improvement from schools as if every student will eventually be an A student? Is that even possible?
Remember the No Child Left Behind Act, and its stipulation that every student in America show proficiency on standardized tests by 2014?
How’d that go?
…And what have we learned?
Do numbers on standardized tests actually reflect the quality of instruction going on at schools?
Why do we continue to enact measures that label schools that fail to continuously improve numbers on standardized tests as inadequate? Is that our goal? Is that what we have decided is the proper function of a school? To raise up every student’s test score until all perform proficiently- willing or not?
What if the student doesn’t want to learn? What if the curriculum doesn’t interest the child? What if the parents place more value on watching MTV, or shopping, or developing athletic skills? What if the kid’s parents are gone and left nothing in the child’s heart but dread, or anger, or depression?
Should the school push the child’s face into a textbook, as a bad cowboy might push a horse’s face into water?
Should a school be held responsible for the attitudes of its community?
Or is a school more an extension of the opportunity for which America is famous?
Wouldn’t increasing the opportunities at all the schools, increase the opportunities for all the students? How does taking money away from schools increase opportunity? Does it depend on fairy dust? A rabbit’s foot? Magic beans?
Should we judge a school by whether it makes all kids great, or judge a society by its failure to give all kids great schools?
How do we give all kids great schools?
Do we leave it up to chance, or do we put our money where our mouth is?
Do all Mississippi kids matter?
Are we sure?
James Comans is an 8th grade science teacher in Southaven and contributor to MSEdBlog. His views are his own and do not represent the views of any other entity.