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Regional schools should govern themselves

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The Dec. 11 editorial titled “Looking ahead” presented some very convincing arguments in favor of educational reform.

There is no doubt that reform in education is needed. Merging school districts, a solution suggested by some, is not educational reform but rather is more like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

The problems in education are not found solely in the schools. Parental attitudes toward education make a huge difference. Anecdotal, personal experience leads me to that conclusion.

Mistakenly, we are packaging education as a means to get a job. A good education can lead to a good job.

However, education’s goal is not a job. Education exists to form the person as a human being and to form the person’s basic academic skills, not to create an automaton to perform a function. A true reform in education will come with an enhanced understanding of education’s mission in the life of society and the importance of the parents’ role as primary educators.

The editorial suggested two remedies. One was to alter state requirements so that shared high schools could exist. The second remedy places these shared high schools under the auspices of Boards of Cooperative Services.

The article presented views supporting regional or shared high schools. Where were the reasons suggesting the value of such schools being placed under the auspices of BOCES? Is BOCES the sole avenue of providing regional high schools?

In the history of education in New York State, the small beginnings of BOCES have mushroomed into large programs and bureaucracies. The BOCES have done many things well.

However, the local school districts are the experts at providing reasoned and reasonable high school programs. Would it not be possible for two or three districts to agree to form a regional high school, and let those districts create a new form of “Board of Education” to provide appropriate governance?

Obviously, an idea like this one would require some new, original thinking. However, after all, shouldn’t educational reform be grounded in new, original thinking?

I know that such a solution would not gain any favor or support among those who continue to live old, school rivalries. Such rivalries are just that: old-school.

Turning over such programs to BOCES is too facile a solution and one that would distance education even further from the local level and local control. In educational reform, new issues require new solutions.

Robert H. Aucoin


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