Choice: Charting a Course to Higher Ground
Choice. In order to choose, folks must have “choices”, the abilities to discriminate variations, and criteria by which to rank and establish priorities in the act of choosing.
As my wise grandmother would say and model:
“Alles mit Mass und Ziel”
Prior to acting, we evaluate, we measure, and consider our options in light of our goals, intentions, and our destinations.
We stop and think before we make any choice.
Today, we recognize the realities of a culture with administrative pragmatists presiding from mounds along the slippery slopes of hedonism; a hedonism that is camped along shores of anarchy ushering impulsive passengers toward cascading waterfalls of tyranny.
History repeats yet again, for lack of a thinking virtuous people, woefully lacking successful transmission of values, which would anchor them to the higher ground.
As those of virtuous, and perhaps not so virtuous, intent, throw out lifelines, rope ladders, and flotation devises; let’s review the major school choice options being offered in the ongoing battle for who will mind the minds and the future of our nation.
Beyond the word choice, we must also recognize: compromise, cost, conditioning, controversy, corruption, and control, amongst a host of variables to consider, compare and contrast on our path to charting a course to our destination of higher moral ground.
Our ultimate destination being: the development of a virtuous, educated, moral citizenry capable of self-government under God.
1.Traditional Public Education
Controlled by Federal and State funding which demands compliance with: Standards, curriculum, accreditation, assessment testing, longitudinal data tracking (SLDS), behavioral surveys (PBIS), teaching machines (digital media), teacher and administrative performance based on standardized student performance outcomes.
Governance: As a fully public entity, records are to be accessible to the public.
Cost: taxpayer funded.
2. Charter Schools
Charter schools are public schools also controlled by Federal and State funding that may be exempt from many state and local rules and regulations in exchange for increased financial and academic accountability. Charters may have a focus of classical, musical arts, cultural or vocational technical emphases.
Charter schools are typically required to adhere to:
Federal and state-based standards, accreditation, and state assessment testing, longitudinal data tracking (SLDS).
Charters may have more freedom in hiring of educators, curriculum selection, and administration.
Governance: Charters may be governed by boards comprised of parents, citizens or Corporations, Executive meetings, board decisions, curriculum selection may not be open to public review. “Transparency” and recourse depend on who establishes the rules and governs the charter.
Cost: taxpayer funded.
3. Voucher participating Private Schools
A private school’s focus can be religious-based, Classical liberal arts academic-intensive, and/or specialized for specific groups of students. Private schools that have chosen to comply with state accreditation in order to accept Voucher scholarship students, must also comply with:
State assessment testing, longitudinal data tracking (SLDS) and meet a level of student performance outcomes on these state assessment tests in order to maintain Voucher participation status.
Governance: Private schools have private boards and are subject to their established by-laws, and are not open to public review.
Cost: Private schools usually charge a tuition fee, toward which Voucher scholarships may be applied.
4. Tax Credit Scholarships
Tax-credit scholarships allow taxpayers to receive full or partial tax credits when they donate to a nonprofit that provides private school scholarships. Taxpayers can include both individuals and businesses. These private schools must be accredited by the state and thus must also participate in the:
State assessment testing and longitudinal data tracking (SLDS) etc as noted above for Voucher participating schools.
5. Virtual Classrooms- Online learning
Online learning allows students to work with their curriculum and teachers over the internet/ ethernet—in combination with, or in place of, traditional classroom learning. A multitude of multi media combinations exist in the virtual learning world. This modality is highly used in combination with nearly all of the choices listed here.
For good or for bad, this choice is also subject to the ongoing Data Tracking highway (SLDS), and it may be particularly susceptible to embedded formative assessments when used in combination with e-learning gaming formats.
Just because it is “published on the net”, does not mean it is vetted, true, or beneficial to virtuous education, human neurobiology, or privacy.
6. Private non-Voucher participating Schools
Private schools are educational institutions run independently of the government. A private school’s focus can be religious-based, academic-intensive, and/or specialized for specific groups of students, such as performing arts, classical liberal arts, or science and technology.
Private schools may be accredited by a separate accrediting organization specific to the educational focus of the school’s mission statement.
Private schools may choose their own methods of assessments. It is left to the individual private school as to the extent of data tracking that will affect each student.
Governance: Private board
Cost: Private schools typically charge tuition. Scholarships are often made available through the generosity of alumni and donors.
Homeschooling is an alternative form of private education for children outside of public schools, typically within their own homes. Homeschooling is regulated differently from state to state. In some states, parents are able to create their own curricula; whereas other states require standardized tests, curriculum approval, and regular professional evaluation of students.
Cost: Parent, curriculum and intentional instruction that best meets the needs of the child.
If you are a parent reaching for a rope or a raft; a taxpayer heading to the poles to cast a vote; or a generous donor writing a check, be certain to consider, “Alles mit Mass und Ziel”, as you make your choices.
As we chart a course for higher ground, we must recognize those of virtuous intent, foundational principles, and proven patterns of excellence, both private and public; and build retaining walls against the rising flood waters pulling many into the current cascading over tyrannical falls.
“When the enemy comes in like a flood,
The Spirit of The LORD will raise up a standard against him.”
The Spirit of The LORD raises the standard through His people.
“Standing on the tiny deck of the Arabella in 1630 off the Massachusetts coast, John Winthrop said, ‘We will be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.‘ Well, we have not dealt falsely with our God, even if He is temporarily suspended from the classroom.”
~Ronald Reagan, January 25,1974
Tragically, God has been more than “temporarily suspended” from the majority of classrooms in America’s educational choice lineup. President Reagan was not successful in dismantling the Federal Department of Education, as he had campaigned to do prior to taking office. Thus, federal coercion, corruption, control and invasion of personal privacy continue to compromise the future of America.
And now the Choice is up to you.
Whether you’re in the water, on the deck, on the shore, or shining the beacon; it’s up to you to keep raising the standard, charting the course to higher ground, leading America back to One nation under God. There is no “someone else” who is going to do your duty for you. The privilege, the responsibility, the choice and the consequences are up to you. May you choose well. May we all choose well.
So help us God.
Mass ..to measure, to weigh
Ziel…aim, goal, destination, purpose
* Each state may vary somewhat, this is the general format.