“Keeping an elected Board of Education would help felicitate…”

You know he doesn’t mean “congratulate,” right?

Here’s the whole statement:

“Keeping an elected Board of Education would help felicitate the improvements of public schools.”

Well, somebody ought to congratulate the public schools when they improve.

I’m a product of public schools. I believe in public schools. I believe that they are not only essential preparation for democracy in a diverse society, but also the actual experience of democracy in a diverse society. My public schools gave me an excellent education, but they also provided me with the opportunity to learn from fellow students whose strengths and backgrounds didn’t match mine. I learned to respect other kinds of intelligence; I learned to be curious about and to respect other cultures; I learned to appreciate the whole person, not just the part I was competing with. A prep school might have given me more constant academic rigor; but why should a kid have to endure constant academic rigor—where’s the creative space in that? A private school might have given me deep-immersion experiences with my social peers—but I was a middle-class kid, and my social peers are mostly whom I spent my time with in public school anyway. Home-schooling might have offered me the diverse and challenging world of my parents, both professionals and both very interesting people—but hey, I got that at home. I treasure my public-school education, and I believe in the idea of universal public education. I lament that politicians and deluded parents and socioeconomic inequality are wrenching it away from what it could and should be.

Anyway.

My student was looking at a city that wanted to experiment with an appointed Board of Education. I agree with him that letting the mayor more or less dictate the nature of public education was probably a big mistake. To me it smacks of Consultants, and I have had my fill of consultants hired to “fix” something they didn’t understand but had a product to peddle to.

So I applaud my student’s intended idea. But clearly he didn’t write what he meant. He meant, as we all can surmise, facilitate. Was it AutoCorrect or Spellcheck that insisted on a congratulatory role for Boards of Education, or was it a student who knew what he meant but didn’t know how to spell it, or didn’t actually know what the word was? If a Board of Education can’t facilitate learning, can’t facilitate growth and progress, can’t facilitate improvement, what the hell is it for? And my student is accidentally right, too: a good Board of Education, made up of caring and knowledgeable people from the community, would also be confident enough to give credit where credit was due, which means that yes, they would from time to time felicitate the educators and students for a job well done.

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About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

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