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Essays

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Posted: Dec 20, 2007 14:07

REACTIONS

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By: Lon Woodbury

The Congressional Hearings by Congressman Miller's Committee on Education and Labor held on the 10th of October sent shock waves through the network of private parent-choice residential schools and programs for teens. There were two initial reactions. One was a kind of "grin and bear it," not get defensive, see the hearings as just politics and work to get on the record the facts of positive accomplishments schools and programs have made in helping children's lives. The other reaction was anger at the misrepresentations made and unfairness at the mischaracterization of private programs.

As some time has passed, this thinking has started to evolve in a direction of taking this as a challenge. The creativity that was the basis of the founding of the private parent-choice industry is again rising to meet this challenge in a way that could make the schools and programs more effective. This is a healthy development that could motivate schools and programs to take an honest look at what they are doing to improve their programs and staffing. A good example of suggestions along these lines is found in an essay in this issue by Dr. Bill Valentine and Dr. Jim Powell called OPPORTUNITY KNOCKING.

Only time will tell whether the resulting changes from this call for program introspection will mean more effective services for the children of parents choosing residential resources or whether they will just provide better cover to satisfy regulators. In the meantime, it will be wise to keep in mind the realities of politics in Washington D.C. Congress is not necessarily a temple of wisdom. Power is the name of the game and decisions are not made so much on the basis of "seeing the light" as they are based on "feeling the heat!"



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