George Will

A visitor to an AIPCS classroom notices that the children do not notice visitors. Students are taught to sit properly -- no slumping -- and keep their eyes on the teacher. No makeup, no jewelry, no electronic devices. AIPCS' 200 pupils take just 20 minutes for lunch and are with the same teacher in the same classroom all day. Rotating would consume at least 10 minutes, seven times a day. Seventy minutes a day in AIPCS' extra-long 196-day school year would be a lot of lost instruction. The school does not close for Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Day or Cesar Chavez Day.

Every student takes four pre-AP (advanced placement) classes. There are three weeks of summer math instruction, three hours of homework a night. Seventh-graders take the SAT. College is assumed.

Paternalism is the restriction of freedom for the good of the person restricted. AIPCS acts in loco parentis because Chavis, who is cool toward parental involvement, wants an enveloping school culture that combats the culture of poverty and the streets.

He and other practitioners of the new paternalism -- once upon a time, schooling was understood as democracy's permissible, indeed obligatory, paternalism -- are proving that cultural pessimists are mistaken: We know how to close the achievement gap that often separates minorities from whites before kindergarten and widens through high school. A growing cohort of people possess the pedagogic skills to make "no excuses" schools flourish.

Unfortunately, powerful factions fiercely oppose the flourishing. Among them are education schools with their romantic progressivism -- teachers should be mere "enablers" of group learning; self-esteem is a prerequisite for accomplishment, not a consequence thereof. Other opponents are the teachers' unions and their handmaiden, the Democratic Party. Today's liberals favor paternalism -- you cannot eat trans fats; you must buy health insurance -- for everyone except children. Odd.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
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