FOR OUR CHILDREN: A New Approach to Public Education by Frank & Thomas Hauser Macchiarola

FOR OUR CHILDREN: A New Approach to Public Education

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Macchiarola, the recent, forceful chancellor of the New York City schools (1978-83), is here joined by N.Y.C. lawyer/author Hauser (The Execution of Charles Norman, The Beethoven Conspiracy) in an all-pleasing espousal of support for academic standards--competency testing, merit pay--and social obligations: medical and dental exams, keeping schools open after-hours, providing a non-stigmatizing free lunch for everyone. The orientation is toward urban situations; the emphasis is on educating all children. Most concrete are the authors' views of ""The Powers That Be."" The federal government should provide leadership and supplementary aid (re the science and math teacher shortage, constructing lunchrooms)--but not set policy; the judiciary, too, shouldn't intervene in administration. In both regards, the case in point is the 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act: ""Three times as much money is spent per capita on special education students as on other youngsters, much of it wastefully spent."" The states, in turn, should set minimum competency standards for students and require subject-mastery of teacher candidates (""with some applicants not making the grade""). Local school districts should be further consolidated, but students should have a choice of schools--both to provide the stimulus of competition and to decrease the flight to private schools. On ""Teachers and Their Unions,"" there are harsh words for doing-no-more-than-the-contract-requires, limitations on transfer, permanent tenure, and job security based on seniority; also, for complex, time-consuming ""due process"" dismissal of incompetents and the dishonest. The authors urge more business involvement, parental participation, and student responsibility. Knocking educators and reformers, they don't want to give more money ""to the same person who couldn't do the job"" with less. Much of this is platitudinous, and parts pander to common prejudice; for a more invigorating, sustaining set of proposals, see Cynthia Parsons' Seeds, below. And, for the total picture, the Grosses' Great Debate, above.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1985
Publisher: Continuum