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Who are schools for?

Who are schools for?

Years ago, I spent a week at a diocesan summer camp. I headed up a team of adults that was in charge of Christian education. We designed and led the curriculum. We did a good job.

But during the course of the week, I began to wonder who the camp was for. One would expect that it is for the kids. But I wasn't so sure. At times I thought the camp was more for the summer counselors; and at other times it felt as though camp was for those who owned and operated the facility.

In reading through Ordinary Resurrections by Jonathan Kozol, and as he describes the classrooms he visits, a similar question surfaces: who are the schools for? He describes the challenge to students who have to wait in line to go to the cafeteria; and then wait in the cafeteria -- for a half hour, before they can go up and get their food. They wait another another 20 minutes after eating before they are let out for recess; and because of the all the confusion the kids get 12 minutes to run and play.

A bit disorganized, Mr. Kozol states understatedly. Disorganized indeed. One gets the sense that the school is not clear about its mission.

With all the rhetoric -- and sometimes rage, that surrounds the public education debate, one wonders who the schools are for. The parents? The administrators? The funders? The teachers? Their unions? Test scores? The kids?

It may be all of the above, but my hope is that kids would lead the list, and not be an afterthought.


I fully agree. If we would put the children at the center of every conversation about education, we would have such better outcomes. I've been a part of too many conversations about schools where children either aren't mentioned or are mentioned as an aside. I refuse to let that happen. Children First.

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