Much of the disagreement caused by the use of the term paternalism in David Whitman's new book stems, I think, from a reticence to acknowledge reality. That's unfortunate--education policy already suffers from a dearth of invested persons willing to call things what they are.
Take, for instance, the reluctance of Eric Adler, who co-founded the SEED School, to have paternalism in any way attached to his institution. Whitman writes:
Eric Adler, cofounder of the SEED School in Washington, D.C., argues that calling a school paternalistic implies that its staff is asserting that it "knows better than others--like parents or the neighborhood"--which values schools should transmit. "I don't think SEED asserts that we ???know better,' we just assert that we have more resources with which to teach."
I get it. Adler has no reason to ascent to the labeling of his school as paternalistic and every reason to rebut it. But his statement is untrue. SEED (where students are held to rigid standards of discipline and conduct, and where they live for five days a week) is inarguably asserting, albeit implicitly, that it "knows better." SEED is not set up to complement the values of its students' neighborhoods;...