Sunday, November 16, 2008

Mobile Press-Register ~ Tying oneself into a knot

The Mobile Press-Register couldn't resist taking on the ACLU and defending the hometown team could they? However, they might have chosen another theme. Their ACLU doesn't know what's best for kids after all comes after they recently told economic policy heavyweights to call Joe the Plumber for advice.

As an aside, I actually taught under Dr. Roy Nichols, mentioned in the Editorial in that he's now down in Mobile cashing his checks, when I labored in Troup County. A decent enough super from what I observed and understood yet I know he'll bend over backwards to avoid controversy or litigation.

The Mobile P-R writes in part the following:

Mobile County school officials learned last week that lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union are doing double duty as experts on education and would-be policy-makers for local schools.

Notification of the ACLU's new role as an education think tank came in the form of a letter from its attorneys to the administrators who run the Mobile County Public School System. ...

... a staff attorney for the ACLU in Alabama went well beyond legal and constitutional matters in declaring that gender-based school programs don't work and take "time and money from things that we know do work."

Evidently, the ACLU and its Alabama affiliate have decided they know what's best for the children, not the education professionals in our local schools. ...

Mobile County schools Superintendent Roy Nichols sees no downside to letting schools experiment with single-sex classes. "I've encouraged principals to try and find the very best way for (the) children to learn," he said.

Chances are, Dr. Nichols and other school officials know more about what does and doesn't work in the schools than the ideologues at the ACLU. At any rate, school administrators are paid to make these judgment calls based on research and practical experience.

If necessary, the schools can make accommodations for students who don't want to participate in single-sex programs. But Hankins and other area schools with single-sex classes should ignore the threat of ACLU lawsuits and stick with what works for the children.

Didn't they also once opine "Reactionaries Ruling Education In Alabama"? They fuss at the "education establishment" it seems rather often. Now, they rush to their defense?

They write, "Education research hasn't provided a definitive answer to the question of whether single-sex classes provide academic benefits. But many education officials believe the single-sex approach is worth trying, especially at the middle school level." Indeed that's so. Then again, I continue to argue the many facets involved in learning are truly difficult to measure.

Although once the Mobile P-R even dared to admit poverty was the primary problem in education they still reliably argue that competition is the solution to every trouble. Those magic markets are hard to give up even now I bet for this outfit. Also, since they've bought fully into the measurement of achievement how can they now argue to just let the professionals go with their gut?

I've taught middle schoolers. They are a tough lot. I'm thinking small classes, quality teachers, parents that give a damn, a rich curriculum, resources for teaching, solid leadership ... matter more than a gimmick like same sex classrooms. The ACLU thinks similarly. Yet the main issue remains legal of course.

You'd think the Mobile P-R would appreciate an effort to resolve this mess short of filing a lawsuit. But they, like pretty much everyone associated with movement conservatism, are more interested in advancing their cause. John Gunn

No comments: