Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Are Charters Resegregating Schools-Aixa Rodriguez Weighs In

Dear Mark,
Are charters resegregating public schools? I know you may not see it in NYC and there may not be obvious parallels to the segregation of the past, but I see the pattern. I believe they are. Let me tell you why.
One issue is that charters are particularly targeting/locating in neighborhoods that are black and brown. They are juxtaposing their facilities, and resources against those of the local public school. They co locate in public schools demanding the best space and squeezing the host school out like a parasite. Parents in these areas are understandably hungry for quality schools after decades of neglect and restructuring that caused chaos. They see what those schools have and want it. Who could blame them? Then the charters pit one group of parents against another; a parasite attacking its host, the charter parents vs public school parents. The divide begins.
They prey on the frustration with the public schools and the feelings of parents of color who wish they could offer their child the best, who want the best and can't afford private school. “Public Schools are bad” is their main advertisement. That is a problem. It separates us. The biggest issue is the disunity they create by pitting one group of parents who feel entitled to put their kids in a charter because it is their "choice" versus the parents who choose public schools and whose children are being impacted by the siphoning of money and students to these schools. Divide and conquer.
Charter supporters are often seen talking up how they are saving black and brown kids but are not accountable for their harsh discipline, abuse, and the negative impact their presence has on the education quality of other brown and black students. Those kids are simply collateral damage. The kids they routinely pushed out of their schools when they are unable to serve them, just eggs for an omelette.
Consider the ridiculous white savior attitude of hedge fund board members and charter school leaders who claim the mantle of civil rights and actually use language like "we are helping little black kids" in their attacks and swings at the public school system. They try to play the race card while deflecting blame and changing the subject.
The segregation moves charters are imposing may not be obvious on a racial basis in a city like NYC, however, when you look at who is attracted to the charters, we have several things to look at.
1. academic segregation: parents with bright kids are justifiably afraid of the violence, bullying and crass climates and behavior in local public schools. As the bright kids are siphoned out, the resulting population in the public school does not have those kids to balance out their statistics. This has a serious impact on scores, and eventually school closings. The well publicized push out of children with disabilities either with IEPs or 504s, is another layer of academic segregation. Increasingly small pockets of ELLs are being welcomed into charters but not in large numbers at all. There is talk that they also are experiencing push out if they don't "learn english" fast enough or have low grades on exams. The result is the local school having to take students after the charter has already received and kept state funding for.
2. Socio-economic segregation: The lottery process and recruitment for charters is getting more aggressive than before , with student info being released so advertisements can be sent home. The middle class and aspiring middle class parents who are attentive to the dates and steps for their process to apply to these schools are the ones who will secure seats first. These families are siphoned out of the public school population. If they are the types to be engaged and involved, to have the economic resources, skills and talents to mobilize and fundraise, the public schools are missing out on this.
3. Racial/Ethnic/religious segregation: The entire process of applying to a charter means that some groups will not be immediately aware of the options and the charters will not get as many of these sub-populations. Unless charters take all children, the public schools will continue to have the vast majority if not ALL of the newcomer English Language Learners, new immigrants and diverse religious groups.
Charters use the manufactured failure of public schools to justify their existence. They mean to create the environment that leads to school closure and paves the way for their wholesale real estate take over. Redlining education? Feels like it. This is #edugentrification, the Columbusing of our school system, the shock doctrine in education.


ciedie aech said...

wow, Aixa: this is such a wonderfully EXACT understanding, stated so well and so clearly. THANK YOU.

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