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MONTHLY NEWSLETTER:  JANUARY 2010 ISSUE

CHAOS IN EDUCATION
BY BRENT VAN ALFEN
PROVIDENCE FINANCIAL CO., LLC



Recently, a charter school was in the news because of a clash between the board and some parents of children who attend the school. The board decided to terminate a teacher at the Christmas break for reasons they considered important. A relatively large group of parents, including some school founders and former board members, did not agree with the board’s decision and began circulating a petition and taking other measures to get the teacher reinstated. There was a fairly sizeable contingent of parents who joined in this action. Reporters also gave it some prominence in the news.

Charter school detractors immediately pointed at this disagreement as a major weakness in charter schools. They considered this situation between parents and the board as an indication of chaos in charter schools. They stated that this is endemic of a general lack of order and discipline which is a strength of traditional education. There would never be such a scene in public schools--and they are right! At least in my experience, I have never heard of parents being encouraged to give constructive input in traditional public education except in very unusual and high-level circumstances such as bond issues, etc. However, in public education parents have no input in getting a teacher either dismissed or reinstated.

Our children attended public schools before there were any charter schools in the area. We had good kids, but we still had occasion to take issue with the principal or a teacher on certain matters that affected our children. We never once felt that we had a fair hearing or that our opinions mattered in the least to the school personnel. We were told on one occasion that the education “professionals” know more about educating children than their parents do, and that we should stay out of school affairs. On another occasion, I offered to lead a fund-raising effort to finance a badly needed computer lab at our high school. I was turned down because the principal said that when money is donated, “there are usually strings attached”! A male health teacher at our local high school openly and persistently teased a high school girl about her well-endowed body, and the administration never did anything about it! The union mentality from the superintendent to the janitor assumed the “circle the wagons” mode and protected their own. After all, the “professionals” know much more than the parents in matters of educating our kids. I used to joke that the principal of our high school had vats of hot tar on the roof kept at the ready position to pour on parents who dared to approach the high school doors.

Yes, there is more “order” in traditional schools, at least to the outside observer, because there is not a venue for parents to become involved. Parent-teacher organizations are all too often just window dressing.

Give me the “chaos” of charter schools any day! With a board governing every school that is comprised of involved parents, at least in part, there is a venue for parental input. Parental involvement is encouraged, not rejected. Control of the education of the students is in the hands of the parents, where it belongs. I am a businessman, not a professional educator; but I know my kids better than their teachers do. Parents and teachers working together is a stronger team than either individually. With a dedicated teacher’s training combined with a parent’s knowledge and familiarity with their children, education is much more effective. If that is chaos, I will endorse it any day

For information contact Brent Van Alfen, Providence Financial Co., LLC
Phone: 801-299-8555 Email: brent@providencefinancialco.com






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