Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Some Tough Questions for Teach for America and the Charters

The dominant woldview of Teach for America, along with the most popular charter school chains - Success Academices, K.I.P.P., Uncommon Schools etc- implies that low income communities are "toxic" and that for young people in them to succeed, they must be insulated from all surrounding cultural influences and choose as role models and institutions to aspire to people and places far away from where they live. That is why such programs actually prefer teachers who have no connection with the communities they live im, teach for a short time, and concentrate on drilling students for tests whose symbols and cultural references have no connection to the neighborhoods students actually live in. It is also why these programs and schools promote draconian behavior codes which lead to the massive expulsion of rebellious or non-conforming students and families.
To challenge these programs and institutions effectively, we must challenge their worldview as well as their pedagogy and educational philosophy
Here are a couple of questions that might guide this
First, are low income families any more "toxic" in terms of values and impact than the hedge fund managers and real estate developers who fund charters and TFA who have monopolized obscene portions of the nation's wealth while promoting policies that lower wages, cut government budgets and promote gentrification of neighborhoods
Second, does regarding local communities as "the enemy" prevent you from incorporating valuable cultural resources into the school culture, ranging from music, to historical knowledge, to traditions of heroism and resiliance, that might make school communities more joyous and nurturing and inspiring places
Third, does the massive expulsion of non conforming students and families, along with the preference for short term teachers from outside, rather than teachers for life from the communities schools are located in, divide neighborhoods vulnerable to real estate speculation and displacement and prevent them from uniting to defend their children from abusive police practices, the drug war, and other policies which marginalize and stigmatize young people of color
We owe it to our children, all children, to ask these tough questions


Jack Covey said...

The Hedge Clippers --- a group critical of Hedge Funders' influence on education --- put out a study about how the same hedge funders bankrolling the draconian charters are simultaneously backing legislation that harms the community in which those schools exist.

Parents are sending their kids to schools that are funded by the same people who push economic policies that devastate the very communities, ethnic groups, and socio-economic groups that these parents are from.

Secondarily,the SUCCESS ACADEMY schools are run with a disciplinary management style that those same hedge funders would never tolerate for their own children:

Here's the report:


EXCERPT from Hedge Clippers report"

"Success Academy—the charter-school chain and political
launching pad for anticipated mayoral candidate Eva Moskowitz —is a favored charity for many hedge fund managers.

"But beneath their rhetoric about fighting poverty and supporting academic achievement is a real double standard. It can be seen in two key ways:

"1. Many of Success Academy’s hedge fund board members
contribute to political causes that harm the population
that Success claims to serve.

"2. Success Academy’s hedge board members would never
allow their own children to be subjected to the harsh
disciplinary policies of the charter chain.
This is the first report of its kind to examine the hedge fund hypocrisy at Success Academy. It also reveals the more than 50 hedge fund managers and hedge fund spouses who have notable ties to Success Academy."

and on it goes with details and supporting footnotes and sources.

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