How dare she.
The Columbia Daily Tribune’s Web site headline “CPS Math – A civil war,” piqued my curiosity. I’ve taught college-level business mathematics and wanted to know what was happening in our public schools.
It appears that Columbia School Board member Ines Segert and her husband have a dispute with Columbia Public School's “reformed math strategies.” They believe the traditional methods of teaching mathematics are far better for their son than a new and “experimental” curriculum. So when they discovered that their boy was being taught via the “reformed” method, they removed him from the realm of public education at West Junior High School, enrolling him in the private Columbia Independent School.
Mind you, I am not saying that there is anything wrong with the Columbia Independent School. Nor do I necessarily disagree with the Segerts. But …
How dare she turn her back on the very institution that she so ardently fought to have oversight as a member of the board. Her lack of support for the Columbia Public Schools should be a warning to the parents of public school students – don’t trust a board member who does not want his or her child educated in those very public schools.
Columbia Public Schools, as many have told me, does not have the best reputation for quality education. Math has always been a contention; from “traditional” to “new math” to “reformed math.” The last is our public educators’ current attempt to fix an ongoing “problem.” That there is a problem at all is something that escapes me, a relatively poor math student myself, who taught statistics at Stephens College.
Yet, there is a major misconception based on one of the greatest myths in education ever perpetrated on the American public. We are being lead to believe that private education is better; that proprietary education curriculum is somehow superior to public supported education. In fact, we do not know.
Jim Morris of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provided me with some edification. First, the Missouri Assessment Plan, or MAP, predates the No Child Left Behind requirements. MAP tests maintain such a high standard that they are the basis of No Child Left Behind testing in Missouri.
Second, in answer to the question of quality of education; private and parochial schools are not required to participate in such testing and are not held to the same standards as public schools.
It is comparing apples to nothing but a myth. There is, therefore, no way to fairly compare the education provided by either.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee is one of the oldest comparative tests in the world. Even here, there appears to be no statistical comparison of public versus private education. It is important to note, however, that of the 303 students participating in the 2008 Spelling Bee, 173 were from public schools and that the winner was a public school student.
It is also worthy to note that the public school system has been under siege for decades, is badly underfunded and is the “school of last resort” for many students who would otherwise be refused from most private K-12 institutions. But it is more complicated.
Conservative religious zealots are afraid that modern science and knowledge may and will “infect” their children with ideas outside of their teachings. In their minds, the term “intellectual” has become as injurious as “liberal” and “communist.” Today, extremists in the Republican Party pander to this small but vocal group of ultra orthodox believers to create an unholy partnership to destroy public education and science.
Ms. Segert, if your trust in our public education system is so mired in muck that you removed your child from public education, I strongly suggest that you vacate your seat to someone who believes that properly funded and supported public education is the future of this nation.
David Rosman is a business and political communications consultant, professional speaker and instructor at Columbia College. He welcomes your comments at ProfDave1011@netscape.net.