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The Beauty of Local Control and Choice

Op/Ed By Ayesha Kreutz –

 

AyeshaHeadShotThe education of our children should always be as local as possible, and firmly in the grasp of parents.

Every city, region and state is different, and has unique needs, wants, and challenges.

The same goes for families, and individuals.

Considering these facts, it makes sense that local districts should be in control of educating their own children, knowing better the needs of those children than unaccountable bureaucrats in DC.

I love the idea of act locally, think globally.

In my opinion, it’s Jesus-like to look at our local area, and address the needs of the community, all the while knowing an invention could change the world.

A farming community is not going to have the same purpose, or set of needs, as an urban community.

There are cultural differences for each.

That also extends to those communities in different climates.

The Southwest has different needs and problems than the Northeast.

We are not monolithic in culture; however, there is a symbiotic relationship.

We all need farmers, and we all need mechanics and engineers.

The hustle and bustle of city life can spur inventions that might never have come from those in a rural town.

Likewise, the city dwellers might never need the same inventions as those who live in rural America are forced to come up with to solve their specific problems.

So, yes, we can look at our surroundings, and see how to adapt to our specific environment and needs.

All the while, we should also understand that we are one people, one world, made by one creator, and thus, our innovations can become beneficial to all.

The farmer feeds those in the city, while those in the city might entertain the farmer in his down time.

That is why localized education is so important.

Growing up in Key West, I was learning Spanish– mostly a Cuban form of Spanish — in kindergarten.

Why?

Because we were 90 miles from Cuba, and many of the stores one went into were owned by people who spoke little or no English, even though they were trying and working hard to become successful in America.

Now, if the schools were teaching us Polish in kindergarten, it would not have made as much sense, right?

But, I can see parts of Buffalo teaching Polish in kindergarten, as they have a large Polish population, so that might make sense.

That is the beauty of local control of schools, and school choice.

We can address the issues of our local communities while having a global impact.

Now, school choice is not only an issue for poor neighborhoods, per se.

Districts in more affluent neighborhoods have already implemented school choice, and have done so effectively.

I am just saying that all kids should be afforded the same opportunities and choices as those in more affluent neighborhoods, even though I am not necessarily a big fan of charter schools.

Many charter schools are  controlled by the districts that they reside in, and many have also become similar to public schools.

But hey, so be it.

Like I said – what’s important is local school control, and parental choice.

If it is the local district that’s making the curriculum, that’s a step in the right direction.

And, regardless of my feelings, the facts show that underprivileged charter-school students are much better off than their peers in traditional public schools.

In fact, inner-city black students with access to the best charter schools regularly outperform their white peers who are from the richest suburbs on standardized tests.

So, on one hand, you’ve got people saying we need self-imposed segregation, curriculums geared toward minority students, and more black teachers.

Then, in the same breath, these people contend that what black students are learning is not that important, as long as they are sitting next to white students.

Unfortunately, we cannot have it both ways.

Are we willing to ignore empirical data which shows children need good teachers and safe learning environments far more than they need classmates of different colors?

Or, are we going to whine about de facto segregation of schools because of their locations?

Most of our local charter schools, which for all intents and purposes are public schools that get to select students randomly or by lottery, typically reflect the racial makeup of the neighborhoods in which they are located.

And, we have been calling for better schools in our communities since the 1960s.

I believe re-establishing local control and parental rights, also known as school choice, must be a large part of helping to make that happen.

We cannot just focus on access to predominantly white schools located elsewhere.

Rather than shipping children out of failing schools, shouldn’t we strive to have excellent teachers and schools in all of our neighborhoods?

Keeping the best students in our neighborhoods will raise the incomes and statuses of everyone in the neighborhoods, starting with individual families.

We want more for our children than the status quo, and, whether or not you can read, you want your kid to be able to read, right?

Knowing about or creating options in education, and then limiting the number of vulnerable students who can take advantage of them doesn’t make sense.

School choice makes sense because, when we give parents options and educators more autonomy to discover the best practices for uncommon situations and students, we create truth and equality in education.

This breathes the life and hope of a better future into students and families.

Any educational option that promotes parental rights, and contributes to the holistic well-being of students is worthy of our support.

Ayesha Kreutz is Chaplain and Regional Director of The Frederick Douglass Foundation of NY.

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(Disclaimer: The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of the Minority Reporter.)