ed·vocāte v.i. [ed´-vō-kāt]:
to vigorously advocate for high-quality universal public schools that serve the needs of students and society.
Public schools matter, which is why controversies about our schools so often decide elections.
Even those who have no school-aged children know the stakes: that a prosperous stable inclusive democracy can only thrive when the vast majority of citizens are able to think critically and resist the human tendency to splinter into disjoint sub-groups.
This goal can only be achieved through high-quality, universal, public schools. The good news is that in places that have a strong commitment to public school excellence, students with the same socio-economic background do as well or better in public schools as in private ones.
There are many reasons that this parity of outcome isn’t more widely known. Part of it has to do with private school students having, in general, parents who are considerably wealthier and with more schooling than those in public schools. Part of it has to do with private schools denying entrance to students who have a history of poor academic performance. Part of it has to do with fairly constant interference in public school operations by politicians seeking electoral advantage. And part of it has to do with “we are better than them” marketing by private schools to justify their fees.
Unfortunately there are few unaffiliated independent voices that provide an on-going focus on the issues relating our schools. Most sources of information either have an agenda (such as unions, religious groups, privatization and charter school advocates) or focus on a single issue (such as sex education, funding, school closures and maintenance, or special learning needs). Some of these groups benefit directly from undermining the reputation of public schools.
ed·vocāte‘s purpose is to to provide factual and fair information on the full range of policies and practices affecting all elements of infant, elementary, and secondary learning: in school, at home, and in the community. Reports and opinions will rely on authoritative educational, child development, public health, medical, science, and social science research.
ed·vocāte‘s views will reflect two firmly-held positions:
- high-quality universal publicly-funded education free of rigid ideological or religious indoctrination is the surest way to build an inclusive and prosperous democratic society.
- schools must focus on the long-term achievement and well-being of students, not on the interests of teachers or administrators or corporations or unions or pressure groups, and certainly not on the partisan desires of politicians.
The PostPandemic Curriculum Project is an outgrowth of these positions. It focuses not on the immediate day-to-day operation of schools, but on the medium and long term need of students, citizens, and society to make sense of complex public policy challenges. CoVid-19 has exposed gaps in the public’s (and many politicians’) understanding of core concepts underlying the spread of disease. Similar gaps are evident in discussions involving climate change and retirement planning, among other issues. The goal of the PostPandemic Curriculum Project is first to identify these core concepts, and then to make them a focus of a reformed curriculum so that students are given the tools they need to fully participate as citizens of a robust responsive democracy.
ed·vocāte is initiating this project in the hope that it will take on a life of its own, extending beyond the three issues that I’ve identified, and beyond my ability to moderate the discussion on this site.