Wednesday, March 6, 2013

This guy oversees the lives of children?

I had an unfortunate run in yesterday with Ben Chavis who uninvited, plopped himself down to pick a fight during a private conversation I was having. I was speaking with the mother of a teen about to be interviewed about the decision taken by a growing number of teens to opt out of school so he could take control of their life and learning.  

At the time we were discussing with another woman the benefits of later starting age for school (like in Finland) verses Universal Pre-K or other options (such as funding home care for young children). However, regardless, I shared I believed every child should have access to educational models like Montessori and Reggio Emilia (which was the model this woman choose for her children). The woman (who I also didn’t know and who also joined the conversation uninvited) said if parents want that for their kids, they should figure out a way to afford it. Turns out this is the sentiment quite a few outspoken education activists have. I asked why all children should not be given opportunities even if they happened to be born to parents who were not able to provide such options.

Chavis jumped in and accused me of making excuses for everyone! I rebutted and said that was not the case. I explained that not all children have access to progressive school models like Reggio and Montessori which do not qualify for public funding. I thought they should. It wasn't about excuses, but rather providing opportunity.

When he heard that, he attacked my support of progressive education saying it was for communists.  I explained that Montessori and Reggio Emilia were progressive school models.  He said I was wrong. They were common sense models. Not progressive education. He said progressive education is communist education.

I suggested he go to the computer and check out progressive education on Wikipedia. He called me a moron for looking something up on Wikipedia. I explained that the accuracy rate of Wikipedia is comparable to that of the traditional encyclopedias which happen to be out of print today.

He called me a loud mouth who knows nothing and has accomplished nothing meaningful in my life. This attack thrown my way despite the fact that he had no idea who I was or what I had accomplished.

Is this how he bullies kids, parents, and teachers? Attacks and accusations without even knowing who he is talking to? Insistence about progressive education being communist education after he lauded progressive education models? Yikes.

He continued on a tirade loudly praising himself and boasting about all the colleges the students he works with attend. Then he turned around to the teen I was with and asked what college he was going to.  The teen responded saying he wasn’t quite sure if college would align with his plans for success. And, one-size-fits-all Ben, scoffed and walked into the studio to do his interview with John Stossel.  

I am interested to hear what he has to say on John Stossel’s special about the education blob tomorrow (Thursday) night at 9:00 p.m.