In both the reading and the lecture for this week, I saw that one of the biggest running themes was the idea of privilege. Professor Dougherty said something that I found to be very important and insightful: we need to “not protect the most privileged classes.” It appears from the readings that often people will focus on these classes because they have the most power and have the loudest voices. As seen through the example of schools in the Hartford area, when the idea of re-zoning was brought forward, parents from the upper class areas were quick to complain and have their complaints heard. Both the readings and the lecture brought about many frustrating problems with education in the United States. It appears that many public schools are struggling to keep up to standards set by states as a response to No Child Left Behind. As Diane Ravitch points out, because of this policy, testing is “not just a measure but an end in itself” (Ravitch 12). Teachers have been forced to teach a test and not teach actual material.
Additionally, when using the tool on Professor Dougherty’s SmartChoices website, I was disheartened to see that many of the district public schools were performing way below grade level. However, when looking at interdistrict schools, there were much higher scores and improvement levels. Unfortunately, many parents do not have access to this type of information. The school that I work at home is a 98% Latino school. Under NCLB, the school has to receive yearly Adequate Yearly Progress Reports (AYP), and from 2003-2011, they have only twice met the standards. Current policy in the U.S. is inhibiting both the students and the teachers from improving and educating the students, even though many are working incredibly hard to overcome these problems. Additionally, parents struggle because want their children to have a great education at great schools, but they don’t know their options. Therefore, I am very glad to see programs like Professor Dougherty’s SmartChoices because they show parents that even if they cannot afford a private school, they have a choice in where their children can go to school. His program could be tool to remove the aspect of privilege from the ability to get a great education.