Monday, September 04, 2006

School Ownership

So this morning I am perusing The 82nd Carnival of Education, and I came across Margret's post on Where Are the Students in the National Standards Debate? over at her blog Poor, Starving, College Student . She notes that

"Here's a point. Many analyst have pointed out that the public doesn't seem to act as if they have ownership over their schools. They act more like "Oh, that's the school .""

She then goes on to ask

"How does one develop ownership? Now you want to make a policy that again, the public isn't going to feel ownership over. [national standards] Aren't we right back where we started? Why can't we solve problems that are staring us in the face?"

This question is one that is very dear to my heart. I am a bit of an education nerd, I consider myself fairly educated about policy, and I am fairly involved in my kids schooling, yet I don't feel like I have any ownership in any of the three schools that I send my children to. As I have said before, I tried the PTA route, but gave that up. I have seriously considered running for the local school board, but since I am in the military and therefore lack long term ties to the community, making any run at the board is a long shot. This just begs the question, is running for the school board the only way to have influence over my children's education? Having an influence on education was actually the whole reason I started this blog. Unfortunately I have come to realize that the easiest way to influence control over your children's education is by school choice. Whether by charter schools, vouchers, or simple moving districts, there is no other easy way to control your child's education. The public school system has become such a bureaucracy, that any attempts to influence it even a little is virtually impossible. Of course it appears to me that unless you live in a truly failing urban school district, charters or vouchers aren't available on large scale yet. For us who live in mediocre school systems, we have no options.


Dennis Fermoyle said...

Rory, I can honestly say that in Warroad our schools care what people in our community want. We are a fairly small rural district, though, and maybe that changes everything, because it seems like everybody knows everybody. If people in our community don't like something, they are very quick to button-hole board members, or the superintendent, or the principal. When people are unhappy, believe me, those of us working in the school feel the pressure. This has been true since I moved here, but it's been especially true the last few years. We've been in a financial crunch, so we need to pass referendums. We know that if we don't keep people happy, those referendums aren't going to pass.