Myth #1: Public schools are equally open to all American kids.
The vast majority of children are assigned to a public school by their district, based on geography. This means that coveted public schools are allowed to turn children away based on where they live. With school access governed by government-drawn maps, families bid up the prices of homes within the coveted zone. As a result, the best schools are almost always located in the areas with the most expensive homes. A home within the zone will often cost$200,000 or more than an equivalent home just outside it. This is the real cost of a supposedly “free” public education.
My own research shows that the attendance zones of many elite elementary schools actually mirror the racist redlining maps of the early twentieth century. Look, for example, at the attendance zone of Ivanhoe Elementary School in Los Angeles, one of the crown jewels of the L.A. Unified School District. Its map neatly conforms to the areas deemed “desirable” by government mapmakers back in the 1930s, and it excludes all the parts of the neighborhood that—both then and now—have higher concentrations of people of color, immigrants, and the working class….
Myth #2: Educators are experts in teaching and know best how to instruct kids.
A public radio reporter in Washington, D.C., Hanford tells a harrowing story of groupthink through the eyes of teachers who taught “balanced literacy” for years and realized that it was doing more harm than good only when their own children started to struggle with reading. Their stories are heartbreaking, as many of them feel tremendous guilt for buying into a program that failed to teach children the basics of phonics-based reading. Many admit they assumed there was something wrong with their students when they didn’t respond to Calkins’ “three cueing” system.
In the months since Hanford’s reporting, education leaders have been forced to issue extraordinary apologies. “It’s not your fault. It’s not your child’s fault. It was our fault,” New York City’s schools chancellor recently told parents, as he explained that hundreds of public schools have been teaching reading the wrong way for the past two decades….
Myth #3: Our public schools are free from religion and ideology.
…Parents of all political persuasions are finding that the local public school is not a haven of tolerance and critical thinking, but is instead advancing a quasi-religious ideology that conflicts with their core values.
Tim DeRoche | “Three Big Myths of a Public School Education” | June 15, 2023
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