Thursday, October 21, 2004

More on MPR Town Hall Meeting

Posted by Craig Westover | 5:57 PM |  

Looks like I may end up on the cutting room floor. These are remarks of Elizabeth Mische, Executive Director of the Partnership for Choice in Education.


Thanks to everyone for calling MPR or going to their “Idea Generator” for their achievement gap project.

Those of you who weren’t there may not yet know that, with the exception of Craig Westover’s pitch for a Universal Tuition Tax Credit (which Superintendent Patricia Harvey mistook for something else, but nevertheless responded to at length) there was no opportunity for successful home schoolers, private school educators, and very little for charter school people successfully addressing the achievement gap to say anything at all from the audience. For an hour and a half we heard the perennial pitch for more money, more programs, forced parental involvement in the public schools – even some pitches for “synergy” and “scattered site affordable housing.” Most distressing was the abundance of suggestions that we get all kids connected to “the system” by age three.

At one point, Superintendent Harvey actually suggested we follow England’s pre-K practices, citing their “excellent results”…. For more on this theme, take a look at recent articles in The Economist and Education Next.

Craig Westover describes the evening well on his website, for those of you unable to attend:

Now it appears that the unedited version will never be broadcast. The hour and one-half will be edited down to a one-hour automatic playback without caller response. You may not hear that the vast majority of speakers from the audience claimed to be parents and employees of the district schools. One recommendation was to appoint a guardian ad litem for children whose parents don’t “get involved with” their child’s education according to school demands. Another actually claimed that there is no real gap in achievement – only an existential perception of a gap. Another says to protect the union, and not to develop “voucher schemes.”

UPDATE -- The Universal Tuition Tax Credit was cut from the broadcast version

But at no time were successful educators who are serving the most vulnerable kids successfully asked to comment – despite the assistant producer of the show finally agreeing to phone some school choice supporters and telling them they would have a chance to be heard – one choice supporter tried for nearly a half-hour to comment, and was repeatedly passed over for someone paid by the system.

Here’s the information on the rebroadcast. Please listen, and please call MPR at 651.290.1212 to remark on the show even though you won’t be on air. They need to hear how one-sided and unhelpful this show was, and to know that there are people putting children – not systems, jobs, or bureaucratic control – first.

Monday's Town Hall meeting on the state's academic-achievement gap will be aired on Minnesota Public Radio's "Midmorning." (9 a.m. Friday October 22, KNOW, 91.1.) The broadcast is part of a weeklong series on education and features Minneapolis schools Superintendent Thandiwe Peoples, St. Paul school Superintendent Patricia Harvey and Minnesota Education Commissioner Alice Seagren.

Thanks for taking the time to see what’s being touted as “fixing the gap.”