Tag Archives: news

Louisiana Voucher Plan and Reaction

A few links for you this morning, discovered over coffee as I settle into a day of reading Homi Bhabha’s Location of Culture (okay, fine, I admit it — I was stalling).

Louisiana’s voucher plan described here, linked to through Diane Ravitch’s Response Post, concerns me quite a bit. The amount of money initiatives like this take away from already-struggling public schools, as the Reuters piece notes, is cash public schools can’t afford to give up.

One particular aspect of this initiative concerns me more than others, though. The state commissioner of education for Louisiana said, “To me, it’s a moral outrage that the government would say, ‘We know what’s best for your child,’” White said. “Who are we to tell parents we know better?”

As Ravitch’s response piece points out, this is particularly concerning. YES, the government should know what education is best for the future citizens of this country, though I would argue that right now they probably don’t, as evidenced by their gross misjudgments of what’s best for US education of late.

There’s a reason why I will never home school my children. Even though my husband and I, between us, have degrees in education, English, mathematics, biology, and physics, I do not feel qualified to educate my children as thoroughly and as comprehensively as they need to be educated. Furthermore, as a teacher educator and ed scholar, I find it a little insulting that the state commissioner thinks parents know better than those of us who have been studying education for our entire careers, have been specially trained to work with their children and develop their young minds, or (like him) have dedicated their political careers to educational policy. I sure as hell hope he knows better! It’s literally his job to know better!

I rely on a contractor to remodel my house. I rely on a dentist to tell me when I need a filling and a doctor to tell me when I have strep. These people are professionals, as are teachers — they are experts, and they do know better when it comes to education.

Kids and FB

An article on CNN about Facebook’s potential lifting of the 13-year-old age requirement caught my attention today as I was eating quinoa salad and pondering what to do next on this lovely summer day.

A few comments of my own:

  1. This, alongside FB’s recent IPO offering, is yet another reminder of how not-free some of these free web resources are. I love GoogleDocs, but Google’s hold on my life continues to frighten me. This does not stop me from using these resources with students, but it does give me pause and make me think we should be teaching our students how to be critical web consumers.
  2. Yes, FB is doing this for money. Duh. But kids have been targeted by advertising for decades. Hello, Saturday morning cartoons!? I don’t think banning younger kids from FB is the answer… clearly, that hasn’t been working. But I do think the responsibility falls on parents and teachers to help their kids and students think critically about their uses of facebook and similar media.
  3. The rhetoric both of this piece and, more so, of the comments that follow it worry me. The fear of today’s adults about things like facebook and social media corrupting the minds of our youth is only standing in the way of our ability to educate people about these tools. That’s what they are — tools. It’s about being a smart user instead of a passive one. This is true of facebook just like it’s true of email, video games, movies, TV, and yes, even literature.

I feel torn every time I see news stories on this topic, but I always come to the same conclusion — be smart, people.