Friday, March 25, 2005

Consistency is hard, but not impossible

Posted by Craig Westover | 2:41 PM |  

Two days after opining this about the Red Lake shootings . . . .
It would compound the fractures if opportunistic politics were to intrude. The shootings that left 10 dead and seven with physical wounds must not be allowed to accelerate politics of guns or gaming, of economic development in a needy community or poor security in schools. This case is about a troubled youth who, for reasons unknown, could not contain his troubles short of fatal violence.
. . . my hometown paper, under a banner "Red Lake Shootings," runs an OP-ED piece by Dan Gartrell, a professor of education at Bemidji State University and Head Start Teacher at Red Lake, in which he writes --
What will it take for our schools to teach for social competence and authentic citizenship, instead of feeling the pressure to teach only for academic performance?

It will take the state actually learning from the spiritual dignity shown by the grieving but courageous residents of Red Lake.

It will take weighing the need for new taxes against the lives of all Minnesotans lost in schools and finally recognizing that new taxes are indeed needed.

It will take reducing state emphasis on academic test scores and fundamentally realizing that schools are here to educate our children for life in a complex, culturally diverse democracy — a multi-dimensional citizenship of which narrow academic skills are only a part.

It will take replacing the current political accountability some officials cling to with a more enlightened 21st century educational accountability.

We believe Minnesota educators would willingly accept this more valid accountability: to optimize the chances of every student to succeed not just in the "academic classroom" but also in everyday life. The hard lesson of the tragedy in Red Lake is that what happens in school is life. Let us hope our political leaders can become more open to what so many citizens now so painfully understand.
I’m sorry, but if that is not accelerating the politics of the issue, I guess I really don’t “know stuff.”

Earlier in the OP-ED piece Gartrell makes a good point about the value of early childhood education and makes some valid criticisms of the No Child Left Behind Act. The point is his remarks about ECE and NCLB stand on their own, and there is no need to drag in the Red Lake shooting to make his points -- unless of course it is to accelerate the politics of the situation.

One would think adherence to the Wednesday editorial philosophy would have sent this one back for a draft where the ideas were presented for their own sake. Not the case. Once again, I feel embarrassed and obligated to apologize for the (diplomatically) inconsistency shown by my paper.