The Bourne Hypocrisy? Another Case Of Choice For Me But Not For Thee?

Call it Good Will Bunting? After crusading against reform and putting himself forward as a public school guy it turns out actor Matt Damon prefers private schools for his kids. He says the public schools in his new home of LA just aren’t progressive enough.  LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy says that’s not the case.  Damon’s choice is his to make, but it would be nice if at least he did more to empower all parents with similar choices.  I look at all that in a TIME column this morning:

Oscar winner Matt Damon has earned millions successfully playing a super spy, tortured genius, rugby icon, and poker player.  Yet a new role is turning out to be a challenge for the actor and activist: Parent forced to square his public stands about other people’s children with his private choices about his own…

…The hypocrisy issue is well-trod ground in education. Activists putting themselves forward as public school champions while shipping their own children off to tony private schools is an old story.  Advocates of various ideas from busing, to teacher tenure, to economic integration of schools frequently make choices that don’t align with those ideas. On the other side, many supporters of private school choice plans tout various schools as great options for low-income parents while they wouldn’t let their own children spend an hour in them….

You can read the entire column via this link.

15 Replies to “The Bourne Hypocrisy? Another Case Of Choice For Me But Not For Thee?”

  1. I think when Matt Damon refers to schools that are not progressive enough, he is discussing standardized testing (or overtesting), evaluating teachers by flawed quantitative models, and reduced time for the arts and electives. His choice makes sense to me

  2. Come on, Matt Damon speaks against what corporate reform is doing to public schools, so of course he is not going to send his children to one, he doesn’t like them, he has said so. On the other hand reformers cut art, music, foreign language, PE, even recess yet will send their children to schools that have all those things. Matt Damon isn’t the hypocrite the reformers are.

  3. Andy is for “choice” as long as one of those choices is not a public
    School that does not have to adhere to “standardized testing based accountability”….

    Even though sending their children to schools that are not forced to adhere to test based “accountability” is the choice most affluent and privileged parents like Matt Damon, Chris Christie, and Barack Obama make…

  4. Another public school parent weighing in: I will tell you the precise moment when I will perhaps re-consider my view of all these corporate “reform” strategies, testing, more testing, over-testing, misusing results of testing, Big Data collection and purveyance, Common Core standards, Value Added teacher evaluation schemes, more testing, as a troubling and pernicious development in the education of our nation’s public school children: when Lakeside in Seattle, Sidwell Friends in DC and other august and prestigious private academies decide they want their students to be signed up for this racket. Otherwise their children will remain separate and apart from the commoners’ children in the public schools, of course. It must be easy to dictate policies that only affect other people’s children. See also: By the way will there ever be an EduWonk update of the Tony Bennett (it’s really just not that big a deal”) post?

  5. By the way will there ever be an EduWonk update of the Tony Bennett (it’s really just not that big a deal”) post?
    You would have had a better chance winning the last PowerBall.

    Also, regard Bennett:
    Bennett’s rubric:

    A=awesome donor

    B=barely donated

    C=can’t afford it

    D=Democratic district

    F=Free public school

  6. Bertis Downs, I’ll start to take the “it’s not okay if Sidwell Friends doesn’t do it” argument seriously when the people who invoke it are willing to entertain concepts like at-will employment for teachers, 403b plans rather than defined-benefit pensions, eliminating credentialing minimums, and work-rule reforms.

    Bonus points if you can explain how it makes any sense at all to use exclusive private schools that cream ruthlessly (10% poor kids, 0% ELLs/special ed) as a template for American public education.

  7. Tim:

    Cool. As John Dewey said about a hundred years ago:

    “What the best and wisest parent wants for his child, that must we want for all the children of the community. Anything less is unlovely, and left unchecked, destroys our democracy.”

    But I guess you don’t take John Dewey seriously either as I doubt he would have gone for any of your de-professionalization of teaching stuff either.

    We all know what good schools look like: committed teachers, reasonable class sizes, the school as a center of learning, a rich and varied curriculum including the arts and social sciences, supports to give all students a real opportunity to learn to the best of their abilities, parents involved in the school community– public or private or hybrid, these are among the attributes of good schools. So why do so many of our policies discourage rather than encourage those qualities?

    Oh, I forgot: choice. Got it. See also:

  8. You spend a whole column decrying movie star hypocrisy, which is rarely in short supply, but continue to ignore the Tony Bennett fiasco, which is likely to have huge implications for the whole reform movement (that part of it centered around charter schools, at least), not to mention dealing a serious wound to Jeb Bush’s presidential hopes. Your silence speaks volumes.

  9. Alan, on EduW re Bennett, don’t hold your breath. As for the all-important question of where Matt Damon sends his kids to school and whether that makes him an unworthy champion for public schools against the friendly corporate takeover that’s turned hostile in recent years, see this excellent take by Arthur Goldstein in NY:

  10. I am confused when people imply that average parents do not have “choice” in the education of their children. I taught in a low-income district where the children were mostly Hispanic. Here are the choices the parents had. They could:

    choose any school in the district;

    move to a “better” (more affluent) district. Where I live, most affluent communities have some low-income housing, including mobile home parks;

    choose any public school near their child’s babysitter or their place of employment (legal in California);

    offer to work in a private school in exchange for tuition;

    apply for a scholarship to a parochial or private school.

    As a middle income parent, I felt that I had many school choices. Like the majority of middle income people, we were very pleased with the education our children received in the public schools.

    It seems that these “choice” advocates want to send their children to posh private schools with ten students per class and they want the taxpayers to pay the bills. Well, wouldn’t it be nice if we all had the large homes, expensive vacations and yachts like the rich? Common sense should tell us that it’s not going to happen. If you want to send your child to Sidwell Friends, you’ll need to come up with the money or a scholarship.

    As for Matt Damon and the Los Angeles Unified School District, why would anyone enroll their child in a district headed by a man who does not value education or the people who provide it? Also, let’s not forget that this is a district where administrators covered up child abuse and failed to inform the state when they had knowledge of it. I wouldn’t enroll my kids there either. Mr. Damon is doing what he feels is best for his children and that’s his privilege and responsibility. In our country (and probably all countries) the primary responsibility of educating a child falls to the parents.

  11. Great points Linda.
    But don’t hold your breathe waiting for an intelligent response from Mr. Rotherham, Jeb! Bush, et. al.

    And I am sure that you noticed how willing “Dr” John Deasy (who lied to the hapless Rick Hess, much like Tony Bennett did) is to talk to Andy to sully Matt Damon.
    “Dr” John wasn’t that available when he was spending down the reserve fund in Prince George’s County Public Schools.

  12. Yes, anyone truly interested in the education of children (or anyone else) knows that “Dr.” Deasy is not the one to consult.
    Show me a parent with brilliant, well-educated children and I’ll show you an adult who values and respects the classroom teacher. Show me a district that truly succeeds in educating low-income children and I’ll show you a leader who praises “the work of our dedicated teachers” and NEVER speaks negatively of the people who educate the children. These wise leaders know that hiring teachers carefully in the spring (as opposed to September) and supporting them is key to procuring and retaining an effective faculty.

    Also, when an employee of a district breaks the law (theft, child abuse, drug abuse) these effective leaders report these crimes to the police and state authorities IMMEDIATELY (as required by law) and don’t blame “the unions” when such reports are ignored, as they were in the Miramonte scandal. Of course, unions deal with working rights (i.e. salaries, benefits, employment contracts) and not criminal activity.

    The truth almost always comes out eventually and I believe it will in the case of “Dr.” Deasy and the Los Angeles Unified School District.

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