I’m really glad Kai Wright wrote about a boarding school experiment for kids in poor public schools. He frets about disconnecting teens from their families—which could have particularly pernicious effects in black households. I dissent: Having attended boarding school hundreds of miles from home from age 14 on, I think the experience is well worth it. All other things (east coast WASP culture, cough, cough) being equal, boarding school provides first-class, real time instruction on how to fend for yourself—setting your own bedtime, developing study skills on your own, managing money—at an age where these skills are most prone to underdevelopment, perhaps losing out to after-school deliberations over whether to get plain or pepperoni from the local slice joint.
I don't know tons about the sleep-away plan (read the TIME piece here), but Barack Obama has already come out and said that he favors a longer school day and school year (American kids spend less time in school than just about any industrialized nation). Why not take it a step further and institute the faintly colonial, but more rigorous six-day school week I had in high school?
The big knock on boarding school, actually, seems to come from clingy parents:
"It sounds very exciting, but the devil is in the details," says Ellen Bassuk, president of the National Center on Family Homelessness in Newton, Mass. "What's it like to separate a third- or fifth-grader from their parents?"
My parents left for boarding school in Nigeria at age 11, and so at 14 I was definitely not allowed to whine about my “disconnected” educational experience. I know every child is different, but I think the option of greater discipline (and deeper relationships with teachers) should be available to more children—particularly from underserved and underperforming school districts. Maybe I'll feel different when I have my own chickadees, but for now, parents and policymakers shouldn’t brandish family ties as a weapon against what could be, as Kai writes, a “holistic education solution.” What do you think?
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