A cyber-philosopher going by the moniker Socrates recently left a new comment on the post "May 7th Public Hearing":
So you would prefer that schools don't teach students to be good people? YouHmmm. With everything else that I brought up in that particular post, this is the one thing this clever person picked up on. He/she/it completely missed the point that what I - and several other community members had an issue with was the way the issue was raised (patronizingly, smugly, and out of context in a public hearing) leaving teachers, parents and others with a really bad taste in their mouths, and then dealt with afterwards. Tim Burke may have been trying to make a positive point about the PAVE Academy's curriculum, but he presented it so poorly that it came across as an insult to at least part of a roomful of people, and then, instead of apologizing, became confrontational.
would prefer that they are soul-less institutions of purely academic
orientation? How sad.
I think "Socrates" is probably an armchair philosopher who wants to engage in an epistemological, ontological debate (there's a couple of $10 words fer ya, Socrates - see? I went to college too) about whether it's a good idea to teach values in school. Values get taught in school intentionally and unintentionally, directly and indirectly all the time - by teachers, guidance counselors, other kids, etc. It's part of the socialization process. It's also part of the disciplinary process when kids act up in school.
But I'm going to answer your question with some other questions.
- How do you define a "good" person? Your definition might be different from mine, and it would be interesting to see where the overlaps are AND where the differences are.
- "Socrates", if you have a child, who would you prefer to have teaching him or her about values and character in school? Would you prefer your child learn from people who treat him fairly, who encourage him to develop intellectual curiosity and fair play in dealing with people he interacts with, whether they're peers or authority figures? Would you prefer he learn about character from people who negotiate well and look for common ground and real consensus in their solutions to conflict, or from people who are routinely patronizing, rude, and whose primary interests appear to be to get what they want whatever the cost, by any means necessary?
As a parent, I can tell you right away that I have no issue whatsoever with having the PS15 staff help build the character of my son, because over the past 5 years, they've done a wonderful job with him - he's curious, he scores well on tests, he's learned a huge amount about working out differences with other students fairly, he's empathetic and sympathetic, and because he's treated well there, he also makes an effort to reciprocally do the right thing and treat others well. I'm looking at the big picture, which is that they've participated in helping develop a boy with good character. On the other hand, I've watched the DOE and the PAVE Academy people work in tandem to ensure that the PAVE Academy gets exactly what it wants - which is a rent-free location for their school, with no fiscal or other accountability to the public whose taxes support education - through underhanded tactics. They've demonstrated very poor character in my book because they've misrepresented information to the public (I'm being kind here: others would call this LYING); in other cases, they've restricted or hidden information. They've also proceeded with their plans independently of the very people most affected by the long range impact of these plans, and they seem to feel that if they repeat certain meaningless key phrases often enough, their opposition will give up and roll over. This is arrogant and patronizing, and not to be tolerated from anyone.
Read through the earlier posts to this blog and connect the dots yourself (including Spencer Robertson's emails to me, which I've posted here) if you need to see the many other reasons I don't think the PAVE Academy people are equipped to appropriately help children build good character, and shouldn't be preaching about it to anyone until they can demonstrate some good character traits themselves.
I certainly wouldn't want MY son learning about character from people or organizations whose values are corrupt. That's part of why I don't want the PAVE Academy anywhere near my son's public school. Let them do their business elsewhere.