Wake Ed

Wake County school board chair warns choice is segmenting kids

Wake County School board Chairwoman Christine Kushner speaks during a press conference regarding Wake County make-up days following an afternoon school board committee meeting Monday, March 9, 2015 at the Wake County Public School System Central Administration Building in Cary, N.C.
Wake County School board Chairwoman Christine Kushner speaks during a press conference regarding Wake County make-up days following an afternoon school board committee meeting Monday, March 9, 2015 at the Wake County Public School System Central Administration Building in Cary, N.C. jhknight@newsobserver.com

Wake County school board Chairwoman Christine Kushner charges that public education is being hurt by parents being overly focused on individual choice and exclusivity than on the community.

In an article posted Wednesday on UNC-Chapel Hill’s Morehead-Cain Scholars website, Kushner says “the crisis in public education is viewing it as an economic zero-sum game, which is creating a shift toward exclusion — so-called ‘individual choice’ is being used to segment our children, to create ‘have’ and ‘have not’ schools.” She said that it’s undermining the overall health of public education and the community.

“The real crisis, in my view, is a growing imbalance between individual choice and community,” says Kushner, who was a Morehead-Cain scholar, in a speech given recently at the 2015 Alumni Forum.

Kushner continues in her talk to elaborate on her concerns.

“Unfortunately, we have lost sight of the core values of public schools because community is being overshadowed by exclusivity and individual choice,” Kushner says. “If parents would advocate for all children the way they advocate today for their own child, we would not have a crisis in education.”

Kushner says public education needs to be committed to teaching every child. That education, she says, consists of children learning to be creative thinkers, to collaborate across different perspectives and to communicate their ideas.

“In short, our children need to learn how to balance the individual with the community,” Kushner says. “This will be a tough lesson to learn, since parents, taxpayers, and legislators seem to have forgotten this lesson themselves.

“We need to push against the growing segmentation of exclusive schooling — whether through vouchers or charter schools or segregated schools — which undermines that balance between the individual and community.”

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