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Building Community

And yet, there was something in the air – which I called ‘the fire of life’ –
the feeling that we were doing the right thing.
– Yaacov Hecht, Democratic Education

 

Public education needs to be seen as much more than student achievement. It is, first and foremost, our best tool for fostering the strong communities that collectively create a healthy society. The African proverb – ‘It takes a whole village to raise a child’ – resonates, but implicit in it is the understanding that the village is wholesome. Unfortunately public education is not moving in this direction.

School choice is working against the wholesomeness of communities. Charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, vouchers and tax credits for private schools all diminish our ability to cultivate good communities. School choice encourages a me-first mentality where neighboring families compete to get their children into what are perceived to be the best schools. They add to the problem of inequality as the most affluent and able families acquire more of the best for themselves. They ghettoize local schools with the exodus of people most able to build them into something grand, and they contribute to the anonymity that occurs when children living next door to each other go to different schools.

School choice is anti-community and the more we go down that path, the more we weaken our ability to cultivate general wellbeing. We can have it both ways, good student achievement and healthy communities. The changes advocated on this website show how to achieve it and we shouldn’t accept less.

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