Please allow me to indulge for a moment. First, good schools are good schools. I don't care what we call them. The most important thing in a child's life after a parent is a good teacher, coach, or mentor. When I say good schools, I don't mean schools that simply have good test scores. I'm speaking of schools that get good scores, as well as develop the character and passions of their students toward self actualization.
me to debunk a few charter school myths. I don't know if this applies
to all charter schools but definitely the ones I have some experience
with. First let me say that studies show if a parent is savvy and
passionate about education, regardless of race, class, or educational
background, their child is more likely to graduate high school and
college. Charters (at least the ones I have experience with), make sure
that parents prove how serious they are before even giving their child a
chance of getting in. For example, one charter that I know, mandates
(not using this word lightly), that parents attend 5-6 meetings before
even entertaining the possibility of the child making it to the lottery.
These are obviously parents that value education in the home. If
parents miss one meeting, no lottery. On the other hand, district
schools have to take everyone. The savvy parent AND the struggling
parent without meeting mandates. A parent can go through an entire
school year without attending a meeting and the child is guaranteed a
spot in a district school.
Further, in case you didn't know, parents
also sign contracts in many charters to ensure homework is done,
meetings are attended, and certain behavioral execrations are met. If
the parent or child breaks the contract, the child can be kicked out of
school. I know. I've seen it done while "interning" at a charter school.
charters can fire teachers and have extremely high turnover rates. From
my conversations and observations of charter schools, I've heard many
of the policies and procedures be called "inhumane." This could be why
so many teachers can't last anymore than two or three years in many
charters. Ironically, these charters serve as a perfect pipeline for TFA
--mocking two year commitment.
Based on what I know, as they are
currently constituted, charters, TFA, and yearly standardized testing
are wrong for our high need communities. We should stop funding them all
unless they agree to make major adjustments to how they do business.
Why? Because that money can be spent on giving all students a quality
holistic education. Charters, TFA, and yearly testing infuse anxiety,
disunity, and even worst, standardization into the psyche of society.
They are trying to recreate a 21st century idea of "empire." Keep the
masses, and "lower class" under control while the elite continue to
rule. A standardized mindset will always be controlled. Whereas in
schools like Riverdale Country School, there are not state standardized
assessment, no TFA and no need for a charter, and they are taught to
lead and change the world.
Consider KIPP'S first graduating class.
Ranked fifth in NYC in mathematics in the 8th grade, but only 21%
graduated college. Why? Because KIPP test prepped the kids to death and
the kids never built their character or learned to manage their own
freedom. KIPP and many charters standardize and try to control
everything from how kids walk through the halls to how they ask to go to
the bathroom. But teaching and learning is organic; it is human. When
are we gonna ask ourselves why must poor communities of color be treated
like this, whereas middle class and upper class parents would NEVER go
for this treatment!
WE HAVE TO hold politicians and private citizens
who invest in education accountable to the true needs of our at-risk
communities. We must give our communities a true voice. If charters,
TFA, and the state really cared about our children being their very
best, show us, by investing in daycare, Montessori, music, sports,
counselors and everything in between. Charters should take all children
and TFA should change everything! If not, the powers that be will
continue to fatten up the district school kids to be slaughtered and fed
to their private school bosses as adults.
For the rest we have jail cells waiting for them #wemustunitenow