I want to share with you a visit I took to a remarkable school that, through respect and high expectations, raises children up from broken public schools.
Regular readers know that I am not a fan of public schools. I’m a product of public schools as are my children. All of us were fortunate enough to come from literate homes so that we thrived academically despite, not because of, most of our teachers.
As it is, math and chemistry passed me by entirely. My last math teacher was a foul, mentally disturbed man, while my chemistry teacher was counting the days until retirement. Given that those were not strong subjects for me under the best circumstances, these teachers’ academic ministrations did not serve me well. My children, raised in a more affluent community than I was, have fared better in the STEM classes (better schools) but have been ill-served in the liberal arts, which tend to dish up ideology more than knowledge and skills.
People unfortunate enough to be around me when one of my kids’ teachers does something of which I disapprove (a common occurrence) will be treated to one of my tirades about the fact that these people are, for the most, part lazy, uninformed, and overpaid. I especially hate the “uninformed” part. In our fancy school district, we have English teachers who don’t understand subject-verb agreement; history teachers who only know what they recite from their teacher’s copy of the textbook; and science teachers who accept unquestioningly the whole anthropogenic global warming shtick even though all of the predictions have proven wrong. People like this irritate me.
Today, though, I attended a different kind of school, a school so good in its own way that I forgive it even if it does unquestioningly accept anthropogenic climate change or mess up subject-verb agreement. For twelve years, a libertarian friend of mine has been passionately involved with Northern Lights School (“NLS”) a private school in Oakland.
The school started in 1989 when four educators came together to create an alternative to the disastrous Oakland public school district. They looked at the poor children trapped in those schools and thought (rightly) that these children deserved better. Incidentally, when I used the word “poor” in connection with the children, I was not referring to their economic status, even though NLS is an educational haven for students who come from economically disadvantaged homes. Instead, I use “poor” in the sense of “tragic,” meaning helpless beings caught in an untenable education system that grossly under-serves them. [Read more…]