What Is a Good School?
At the very least, school should be a place where children are not treated as though they are data or numbers in someone else’s policy war, or as only “future” members of society as though their present experience is not important in and of itself. Then we need to also think about our “purposes” for insisting that young people spend so many involuntary hours—during their vibrant and restless youths—inside schools that hardly models of “the good life,” not to mention why we spend so much public funds on these schools. Of course, we might wonder also why those with the money to do so spend two to four times as much on the education of their own children. The best NYC independent schools now cost nearly $40,000 a year—almost the same as Harvard and Princeton and easily two to three times what is spent on NYC public schools, not to mention what rich families pay for “after school” education, both formal and informal. In our rush to “close the achievement gap,” we spend a substantial portion of the 30 h a week inside school classrooms prepping them for tests—which are these days the measure of achievement—as though the “haves” will not be sure to give their young the real thing and then, on the side provide explicit one-on-one tutoring for tests at hundreds of dollars an hour. All things being equal, the “gap” will remain and the real gap in terms of a good education will grow ever wider.