Showing the Charter School Love

graciously cross-posted at Humid City, my evacuation chalet

My daughter goes to a charter school. I got an email the other day about tomorrow’s rally in Baton Rouge in celebration of Charter Schools Week (I’ve never heard of this one and wonder why it is the same damn week as Teacher Appreciation Week):

Louisiana Celebrates National Charter Schools Week
Wednesday, May 7, 11:30 a.m.
Steps of State Capitol, Baton Rouge

State Senator Cheryl Gray
House Speaker Pro Tem Karen Carter
Algiers Charter School Association
Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans
Eastbank Collaborative of Charter Schools
Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools
Louisiana Charter School Association
New Schools New Orleans
and others!

Open to the public

And then at the end, the email says:

We intend to:

  • Increase awareness that charter schools are public schools;
  • Advocate for more favorable policy environment for charter schools in Louisiana; and
  • Show how the quality and accountability of charter schools is transforming public education in Louisiana.

Even if I could be there, I wouldn’t. Why? Because charter schools here are NOT public schools. More than a handful of charters, regardless of the supervising agency, have selective admissions and even those that don’t get to cap their enrollment where they choose. They are not obligated to provide for special needs students (at either end of the spectrum) and a fractured “system” makes providing that extra care harder or impractical–how can one single school afford a full-time special education teacher paid out of its current budget for 3 or even 10 students? How can that expense be justified to the 99+% of parents whose children do not need these services? Also, where’s the accountability if no research has been done and is only going to be started at some point in the future AND when schools can provide whatever data they want however they want? There is no standard system for comparing current charter schools or comparing schools now to schools before (and I get this from the Cowen Institute report, not my ass)? A public school takes every child who walks in and educates every child that stays, regardless of need. That’s what public schools are supposed to be about and for. And do we need a “more favorable policy environment” for charters in LA? There are bills in the state legislature now which aim to make our charter school “system” permanent regardless of results, flaws or failures. And no transformation of public education has occurred yet. From my vantage point, we have a few innovators but mostly we have new themes for schools–social justice, college prep (whatever that means), math and science, math and business, art and technology. A theme is not a reform.

There is a place for charters in a public school system. But that doesn’t mean that charters should become a school system. How can we be sure all our children are educated if they are divided into fiefdoms or placed on their own islands? And it will take years, at least one generation, for charter schools to change NO public schools from being schools of last resort (a Cowen Institute phrase) to just plain schools.

You will not see this black mother at that rally.

pic cropped from SanFranAnnie

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4 Responses to Showing the Charter School Love

  1. Erika Mivens says:

    Hi! I serve on a Charter School Board for a school called YEVA that will open in August in Summerton, SC. I thought it was nice to hear of National Charter School Week and then get to read your post. It will take a long time for everyone to understand the concept of a charter school. I think just embracing innovation is a start and then wanting more of a choice as a parent for educationing ones child. I wish you the best!


  2. G Bitch says:

    I have no problem with innovation or choice, Erika. I have a problem with privatizing K-12 education out of ideological belief rather than results. Like I said, there IS a place for charter schools but just because a charter school can work does not mean that all charter schools work or that an entire school system–without the input of parents, students, teachers or voters who pay the taxes that fund the schools–should be turned into charters. And switching to charters here is no guarantee of improvement. Like it was said at the schools meeting, charters are about governance, not results or achievement. Changing who runs a school is not guaranteed to resurrect that school.

    Our school “system” is headed for very serious trouble that in the rush to privatize is being ignored to the peril of our children and our community.

    I love my daughter’s charter school. And there are a handful here that are going to be blockbusters, I can just tell. But I still object to the charterization of a whole city without any public input or approval.

  3. ceejay1968 says:

    Great points on this post. As the parent of a child with a learning disability, that part especially concerns me, but, as your post points out, there are other reasons to be concerned too.

    It’s pure “The Shock Doctrine,” as Naomi Klein discusses in her book by that name. They took over a public entity (New Orleans schools) and changed it while the people were still in shock over a disaster. Then they privatized it – which is the documented plan, the “shock doctrine” plan of the neo-cons.

  4. G Bitch says:

    Absolutely–the idea is that private control is the panacea to poor performance. Though how changing the governence of a school fixes what’s wrong in the classroom, the system, the society and neighborhood and city the children live in baffles the living fuck out of me. I don’t think any of the architects of this care about that. I don’t have the quote but through a trusted source I heard that Leslie Jacobs, best friend of the local charter movement-revolution in NO, said in a committee hearing that charter school teachers were never told they’d get retiree health care benefits and therefore don’t need to ever get them–ignoring the fact that a lot of teachers in charter schools are not brand-new 20-somethings right out of a 6-week teacher training. Jacobs’ attitude is typical–dismissive, narrow, hostile to the past for overarching and simplified reasons, and unconcerned with the details of the movement-revolution for children, teachers or parents. Children deserve a lot more than bottom-line ideology.

Comments welcomed. Really.