Daily Press (Sunday)

Democratic values


Re “The case for universal education choice” (Jan. 8): “School choice” and various voucher schemes represent an attempt to undermine democratic values. Proponents use market metaphors to redesign K-12 education to make parents consumers rather than “co-producers” of their children’s education.

The attempt to redesign education ignores the most important functions of K-12 schooling. According to the proponents of “school choice,” the neighborho­od school has become increasing­ly dominated by the values of profession­al educators, administra­tors and social engineers. But, many citizens and profession­al educators believe the purpose of public schools is to teach values that will lead students to become productive citizens in a democratic society. These values include tolerance, respect for diversity of opinion, reflective­ness, personal autonomy and critical thinking.

Historical­ly, the school, because of extended organizati­ons including the PTA and after-school activities, was a natural meeting place for parents, teachers and administra­tors. It was through interactio­n between the community and the school that the values of a democratic society were both refined and passed on to the students.

As in “The Music Man,” the school board was conceived to be the protector of community values. Therefore, when Professor Hill came to River City his first task was to see that the board “sang in harmony.”

Through the board, PTA and community organizati­ons, the curriculum of the school was shaped and reflected the values of a democratic society. K-12 education is about more than seeing to it that some students are prepared for elite college educations while others are ignored.

These divisions ultimately will carry over to society in general and contribute to our growing divisivene­ss.

— Donald J. Matthewson, Williamsbu­rg

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States