“The collective good” explained

School Choice further Segregates Society (May 24), inspired comments regarding what I described as “the collective good”. My words may have given the wrong impression. Some responders, printed and online, seemed to imagine a socialist utopia mindset- where excellence is sacrificed in return for evenly divided mediocrity. That is not at all what I mean. The equity in opportunities to compete fairly from the beginning and then demonstrate excellence is what I value- as well as some honesty in the narratives of “choice” and “reform”. To that end, the current state of the economy, school funding, and opportunities available to all public school students should be included in discussions that instead center on how schools struggle to overcome these restraints. This is aside from the elephant in the room: the decay of character and morality fueled by free market absolution of policies that are no good for anyone-children most of all.

If it is profitable, we are made to believe it is acceptable these days-even when the profit is limited and it feels wrong. The good of the market and the never-ending quest for consumers and profit has led to a gauntlet of energy drinks, candy and smut right at the checkout line, 24 hours of trash on TV, and shelves full of video games instead of books in the bedrooms of our school students. This is not supportive of positive academic outcomes for children-but it definitely generates profits. This, as a result, has led to a grand and well-funded misdirection: framing public workers and “failing schools” as the prime suspects while the real culprits get away.

In his 2013 article New data shows school “reformers” are full of it, David Sirota describes it this way:

…the “reform” argument gives them a way to both talk about fixing education and to bash organized labor, all without having to mention an economic status quo that monied interests benefit from and thus do not want changed.

So my “collective good” has less to do with taking opportunity and “choice” from anyone, and is more about working collectively so all can have it instead. This will require hard work and cooperation, and resisting efforts to divide and place a for-sale value on our students.

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