De Toqueville’s America, Palo Alto Edition

The call for parent volunteers went out at 9 pm on Sunday, reports John Fensterwald on EdSource. By 9 am Monday, 360 Palo Alto (California) parents had offered to work as classroom aides, Covid testing staff, office workers, recess and lunch supervisors, custodians or whatever else is needed to keep the community’s schools open.

By Tuesday morning, 1 Palo Alto had 670 recruits, says Superintendent Don Austin. Volunteers — the number has passed 700 — started work today.

The schools wills stay open, he pledged. “There is nothing short of a state or county mandate or order that will shut us down. And if they do that they better be ready for a fight too. We are staying open.”

This is from Joanne Jacobs, “Will parents help? 670 volunteer in Palo Alto,” Linking and thinking on education, January 12, 2022.

Alexis de Tocqueville was the Frenchman who wrote about how Americans always stepped up to handle problems and didn’t wait on government. That has diminished as government has encroached more and more, but it still happens a lot, especially when government employees abdicate their responsibilities.

A student of mine from Greece sometime last decade said in class that he was so happy that his young kids got to live in America for 18 months while he was earning his MBA because they got to see how Americans got together to solve problems.

I met Joanne Jacobs, if I recall correctly, at a Hoover conference in May 1993 titled “Choice and Vouchers: The Future of American Education?” She was covering the conference for the San Jose Mercury News. Either at the conference, or earlier, or later, she became a passionate and informed advocate of school choice and has kept it up.

Here’s her bio.