Military Schools Trump Charters in a Vote for Equity and Anti-Racism


New Orleans               News flash from the military of all places!

If you create a level of equity and seek to eliminate racism in the classroom, results will shine, and you will out public schools.  If you try to teach and actually educate children, rather than “teaching to the test,” their reading and other scores on those same tests will surpass their competitors.    In a column in the Times by Michael Winerip we got some good news for a chance from unexpected, uniformed sources.

The comparisons were stark.  Where states are uniformly muscling in on local school district governance and educational programs (he uses TN as an example, but Louisiana is the frontrunner!), the military “doesn’t micromanage” in fact they claim to let, “Individual schools decide     what to focus on.”  The class sizes on average are 18:1, on a par with private schools, despite the nay saying about class size from Mayor Bloomberg and other so-called reformers.  Relationships between military and their unions in the classrooms are smooth, imagine that, but of course collective bargaining and seeking agreements continues to be implemented federal policy so perhaps that should not be a surprise.

An op-ed in the same edition of the Times by several education experts, Helen Ladd from Duke and Edward Fiske formerly the Times education editor, underscores the same points.  The gut grabber:  “The Occupy movement has catalyzed rising anxiety over income inequality; we desperately need a similar reminder of the relationship between economic advantage and student performance.”  Hello!

In their argument they cite a new study that continues to find a huge achievement gap between high-and low-income children over the last 50 years that is even greater that the gaps created by race.  In fact one of the advantages the military seems to enjoy is the ability to press down those gaps in their classrooms where the differences are a matter of grade, not of class.  Ladd and Fiske note that nothing in Leave No Child Behind recognizes this reality, which is another reason for its abysmal failure under both the Bush and now the Obama Administrations, which continue to pretend to be income and color blind while children suffer without remediation.

Interestingly, the United States military has no choice.  They have to produce the kind of citizens they want to fill uniforms in the future, and keep happy the ones that are wearing them now, none of which seems to matter much to too many administrators in their flight to fashion and away from the children.  That’s their business.

The experts argue that it’s a question of morality for the country and past time citizens and their leaders faced up to the challenge.

Good luck with that.  The military seems to know that it has a job to do and there are consequences to failure.  For the rest of us, morality might be the question, but that turns out to be one of the easies questions American citizens have to ignore.