“Charter Schools and the Values of Public Education”—Excerpts

The belief was that creative educators, freed from myriad rules and regulations, would try new things that, if successful, would influence the entire system (3).

Charter schools also have a special obligation: to lead in demonstrating innovations in instruction, organization, curriculum, and design when it comes to improving our [public] schools. Granted leeway from regulations, these charters are given the opportunity to experiment thoughtfully with multiple approaches to teaching and learning in ways that reflect the philosophy and guiding principles of the school community. While some charters live up to this expectation, many do not (3-4).

When they [charter schools] have not lived up to that promise, it has often been in cases where charters have been used by those whose agenda is not to improve the public schools but to abandon them (4).


Sizer, Ted and George Wood. “Charter Schools and the Values of Public Education.” Keeping the Promise?: The Debate over Charter Schools. Eds. Leigh Dingerson, Barbara Miner, Bob Peterson, and Stephanie Walters. Rethinking Schools: Milwaukee, WI, 2008: 3-16.

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12 Responses to “Charter Schools and the Values of Public Education”—Excerpts

  1. Marion says:

    To echo this truth about public education, if districts wanted innovation in public schools and cared to see our best students and teachers excel then officials would get behind, expand and encourage the efforts and philosophy of Magnet schools. Innovation is not what propels public education it is the promise of money for business and commerce within districts to appease the constituency who propel the careers of the well-intending public education establishment. Beside, until parents give a damn, no one else will!

  2. i am a product of the public schools
    they dont make teachers like the used to

  3. G Bitch says:

    Marion, education as a commodity, as a money-making venture for entrepreneurs, means that there are winners and losers and generally the haves and almost-haves [generally white and middle-class or above] will win while the have-nots or perceived-as-having-not [namely black, Latino, special education, etc. and lower-middle-class or below[ will lose. Just like in our previous, flawed, segregated and inequitable Orleans system before the storm.

    Also, there is no evidence that privatization works. Except to make companies like White Hat Management richer than they were before. When profit is the motive, education and children, which is what public education, what K-12 education specifically, is supposed to be about, get left behind regardless of what the initiatives, laws, organizations or schools involved are called. What has happened in NO is that adults have AGAIN hijacked education for their own ends and distorted needs and yet another generation (or 2, or 3) will be cheated and left to fend for its fucking self. And you know what they’ll feed off? Us, the lucky, the haves, the just-barely-got-to-haves through crime, violence, social spending, etc. Not educating someone does not erase that person from consideration. It makes all of our problems that much worse.

    Don’t mistake me for a free-marketer. I was one of those who was lucky enough to be able to fight for a slot at each level of my education. Without that fight, I’d be in shit shape right now, along with the rest of my family and my child/ren. Why would anyone think that those who abhor and want to dismantle public education would be just the ones to reform public education? For the good? Don’t believe the hype-lie: privatization has never worked on a large, system-wide scale and the removal of oversight and the addition of profit have yet to succeed anywhere and will not do so here. Take a look at Ohio’s attempts. [I’ll be posting more as my reading progresses.]

    And may I respectfully say–innovation my ass. A feigned multiplicity of themes is not choice. There is no innovation in making a themed school no matter what the theme. Tell me how “college prep” is an innovation in a school of any level. Innovation in education is about delivery, about students, about the work produced, assessments used, training given to teachers, needs funded, multiplicities respected and served. Creating another tiered system with a public dumping ground is total bullshit.

  4. liprap says:

    You’re in the middle of the book, too!

  5. G Bitch says:

    Yep. Just finished up the Ohio essay. Gave me chills.

  6. Karen says:

    Marion says

    Beside, until parents give a damn, no one else will!

    But what about parents who can’t give a damm, don’t know how to give a damm, give a damm but are working 2 jobs to make enough to put food on the table.

    The School system should not be about parental involvement, parental involvement is just another method of rigging the game in your favor.

  7. G Bitch says:

    I agree, Karen. Schools should educate children regardless of their parents’ education or lack thereof, involvement, concern, etc. If my own education had depended on my parents’ involvement and concern, I wouldn’t know how to spell the word “school.” Instead, I was educated by teachers who cared and did their best regardless of parental input or lack thereof and I have a damn master’s degree. Parents are used as scapegoats. It distracts from the real issue–what is going on, or not going on, in our schools, classrooms, school libraries, board meetings, etc.

  8. liprap says:

    And, honestly, I think if my parents were as involved as the schools these days seem to WANT parents to be involved, I would have died of embarrassment, a heart attack, and/or both. Kids are generally trying to exist in a realm outside of their parents’ houses, and school helps ’em to do that.

  9. G Bitch says:

    Right. This whole parent scapegoating gives the controlling, tyrant and/or torturer parent free rein to oppress. I do not think that’s what happens in general, though.

    On a slightly different but related note, I have a problem with teachers reporting on kids to parents—like, So-and-So didn’t turn in her homework last night, didn’t finish this worksheet, blew her nose three times during the math test. What am I supposed to do? If my kid is trying and screws up once or even 48 times, what is it that the teacher and school expect me to do? Beat the child into submission and blind obedience? Am I supposed to humiliate my child, threaten and yell at her so she never, ever makes a mistake? What does that teach her about learning? Or anyone about learning? Do they expect me to do the child’s work for her? Am I to do all or part of her project/assignment/paper/shoebox float? At the same time I’m told it has to be HER work and not mine? And then complain when the work obviously wasn’t done all by the child? I mean, damn. There’s little sympathy for teachers, students OR parents these days.

  10. Marion says:

    I don’t follow how you’ve Magnet schools with privatization. My reference to increasing business and commerce was in how competitive public schools would attract it. The parents as “another method of rigging the game” observation is a novel concept to me. I can imagine relegating my son and daughter’s education into the hands of some of the teachers I’ve encountered. A couple of generations of college grads in the family has probably jaded my perspective so finding time to work with my kids (or having someone else work with my kids) is important enough to me to put it in the budget.

    I sympathize with parents who are overwhelmed. I happen to deal with college students who are overwhelmed (some are parents) so what it boils down to is that in this economy time and money can not be handled frivolously. Its tough but I believe (a topic for another day) parents must live for their children until they are adults. As painful as it may be our lives must be put on hold until our children are on their feet. I don’t know any other way…enlighten me.

  11. G Bitch says:

    Marion, we are clearly having 2 different conversations.

  12. Karen says:

    I will add that by “rigging the game” I meant that parents who are the most involved are also the most able to encourage the teacher to nudge that grade up half a point or exert whatever influence they have to insure a better grade.

    My daughter was a scholarship student at a local private school, GB knows which one..The kids took a trip to D.C. and were told NOT to bring Ipods or any type of electronic device. When my daughter boarded the bus one of the girls was merrily listening to her IPod, my daughter said “I thought we were not allowed to bring those” and the girls answer was “My parents own this school”

    Did any of the teachers or other parents disabuse this girl of the notion or remove the device, NO. Why? Because her parents obviously do own the school.

    When I tried to talk to my then 8th grade daughter about Justice and how when that girl got into the “real world” she would see that this type of behaviour would not fly my daughter laughed at me and told me I didn’t understand, that this girl was a member of the ruling class of New Orleans and her path was paved. My daughter was right, I was wrong.

    My parental involvement does not end when I put her on the bus, she has had some of the best and worst teachers on the planet, but that does not mean that I have to PROVE to the school that we are “involved” parents.

Comments welcomed. Really.