School Consolidation is a Fabrication of Education

The general concept of school consolidation doesn’t feel right to me. It feels like we’re treating children like objects, it feels like the Wal-Mart-I-Zation of our schools. You know what else doesn’t feel right, it doesn’t feel right that we are spending billions and billions of dollars on “education” and we seem to be going in the wrong direction, meaning we’re not getting the value we want from our dollar or, more precisely, our children aren’t getting an “education” that best serves them and, of course, us.

I can’t help but wonder if the problem isn’t one of dollars and cents but more of perception. After all, the people making the decisions today are all products of our educational system. Most people, in general, are in some way a product of our educational system. When you look at the state America finds herself in today, what does it say about the system that has educated the people who have led and followed us to this point?

Is the problem that we are paying too much for education? Let me ask a different way…are you willing to pay for something if you think you are getting a good value? When put this way it seems like the problem is not that education is too expensive but that we are not getting the value from our dollar. Achieving value and cutting costs are not necessarily (and often not at all) the same things, yet with all the talk of school consolidation it would seem like they are. Which brings me back to perception. What if the problem, in this case with education, is more a failure to see the true problem and not about saving money or cutting costs. Maybe the real problem is not what we’ve been educated to think. Maybe the real problem is our inability or unwillingness to see the real problem.

Maybe we are so educated in saving money and making money that we think that those two things are the only available solutions? What if solving the crises of education in America and in small towns today has nothing to do with money? Is it safe to imagine that possibility?

Micheal Tebbano, the BCSD Superintendent said in an article this past week “…the decision should focus on children…not on four walls and a roof” (Altamont Enterprise, February 17, 2011). I couldn’t agree more. However, school consolidation is the focus on the “four walls and a roof”. If we really want to solve our educational crises we will have to have the strength to root out the true cause of the problems. With every argument that raises consolidation to the level of the solution we get further and further away from our ability to find the true solution and further and further away from focusing on children.

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