Thursday, August 21, 2008


PATERNALISM IS THE RESTRICTION of freedom for the good of the person restricted. AIPCS acts in loco parentis because [Ben] Chavis, who is cool toward parental involvement, wants an enveloping school culture that combats the culture of poverty and the streets.

He and other practitioners of the new paternalism—once upon a time, schooling was understood as democracy's permissible, indeed obligatory, paternalism—are proving that cultural pessimists are mistaken: We know how to close the achievement gap that often separates minorities from whites before kindergarten and widens through high school. A growing cohort of people possess the pedagogic skills to make "no excuses" schools flourish.

Unfortunately, powerful factions fiercely oppose the flourishing. Among them are education schools with their romantic progressivism—teachers should be mere "enablers" of group learning; self-esteem is a prerequisite for accomplishment, not a consequence thereof. Other opponents are the teachers unions and their handmaiden, the Democratic Party. Today's liberals favor paternalism—you cannot eat trans fats; you must buy health insurance—for everyone except children. Odd.

Read it all in the most recent George F. Will column. Don't look now but I think there is light in this here tunnel. While it is clear that Chavis is controversial in many ways, neither his tactics nor his reputation seemed to stymie his success. In another surprise move, Chavez left the school in 2007.

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