Many reforms are needed to make college affordable. The main one, however, is cheaper tuition—which requires greater public investment.
Allison Benedikt’s anti-private-school manifesto is pretty entertaining: You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad. I am not an education policy wonk: I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good. Yes, this is a hyperbolic provocation. I agree with a lot of what Benedikt says, but I don’t think that private-school parents—or, for that matter, the many private-school teachers I know—are bad people.
With our office in downtown Chicago, members of the Century staff are becoming used to the drifts of red-shirted teachers moving about the streets, some with placards, some with their families, most looking energized and purposeful—though that may well change if this strike continues. On the fourth day of the strike, the power play between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis is wearing thin on many Chicagoans as they weave their way around rallies to delayed and rerouted buses and trains. Lewis says that 43 issues are keeping the strike unresolved; the school board claims that only two issues remain. One is the protocol for rehiring teachers who have been laid off. The knottier one is teacher evaluation.
Yesterday in Wisconsin, public-employee unions and their supporters failed to recall the aggressively anti-labor governor Scott Walker. Today in Chicago, public school teachers are voting on strike authorization as part of their ongoing struggle with mayor Rahm Emanuel and the school board. To be clear, the teachers aren't striking. They're voting to authorize a hypothetical future strike, as a negotiating tactic. No one wants to see classroom learning grind to a halt and working parents stuck with unexpected child-care duties. And, while I'm not one to defend the teachers unions' every single move, I'm tired of seeing public education set up to fail and then blamed for its own failure, with special blame always reserved for teachers.
Years before Brown v. Board, the North Carolina Council of Churches fought for integrated schools. Almost 75 years later, the council mobilized again for the same cause.