When Mrs Sheepandgoats and I decided to homeschool our 2 kids, 21 years ago, some challenged us. How could we expect to do better than professional educators? they wanted to know. We looked at it differently.
How could we do worse?
To be sure, had we lived in one of the suburbs, we might have been less confident. But we didn't. We lived in the City School District, which last year achieved a graduation rate of 39%. Yet I'm glad we lived there. Not only did our kids' homeschool education surpass what a suburban school would have offered, but they became "streetsmart," and learned to mingle freely with persons of all ages, levels, and cultures.
My daughter carries herself well. At her workplace, a spa that caters to the well-to-do, co-workers ask her where she was raised. "We lived on a side street off Hudson," she says. "Oh...," they murmur in confusion. (Hudson is in a poor area) But then they brighten... the street ends in more upscale Irondequoit. "You mean the part in Irondequoit," they say knowingly. "No," she replies, and leaves them scratching their heads.
But she would not likely have had such poise had she actually attended the Hudson Ave schools. Superintendent of those schools, Dr. Manny Rivera is just leaving, headed for greener pastures, taking an education job with the Spitzer administration. City! newspaper interviewed him on his tenure with the District. What had he learned?
"I learned that we couldn't do it alone," he says. "It's too big a problem to think we can handle it by ourselves. We needed our college and university partners." Also the "unions." Also the "business community."
We all want "higher performance," he says. "but you have to have systems in place to get there." The trouble is [when speaking with the mayor] "we didn't get to a strategy for implementation.....If this community can come together and embrace key strategies, Rochester would get the results everybody wants to see."
We need "systems," "our partners," our "key strategies." Not only our key strategies, but we have to "implement" those key strategies, and to do that we need to "come together!" Fine words. How can one not be enthused? Yet the skilled interpreter of Educatese can without difficulty detect the underlying message: don't expect any changes in your lifetime.
Trouble is, this is the same baloney we heard back in 1986 from Rivera's predecessor. Had we entrusted our kids to them back then, I wonder just where they would be today.