Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Re: Charters Exclude the Most Challenging Students

The authors of Charters exclude the most challenging

students have much of it correct. As a school activist

in San Diego Unified (a much larger district than SF or

Oakland) I have been involved in organizing and

advocating for improvements at both the school site

level at my daughters non charter public grade school

and large district wide campaigns around curriculum and

some that grew out of high school student activism. I

have long been opposed to charter schools for the very

reasons these authors state. And yet, after years of

struggle in a district and local school that can only

be called broken and dysfunctional bordering on

incompetent, I have had to eat my words and put my

daughter in a public charter school. It is true that

many if not most of the charter schools have some

shenanigans in their enrollment. I visited one charter

school that was lilly white and in San Diego that's

almost impossible. However the charter school my

daughter attends is minority white and their lottery

system has been audited. The school is only a

percentage point or two away from a title one school.

It is as the authors suggest though, a self selected


What the authors fail to mention is the fact that the

broader public school system is not working at all.

Our children get one education, shall we parents

sacrifice our kids to a system that takes these

children, many from the families the authors describe

as parent 1 and turn their kids into the bored &

ignored? Many of these children need to escape a fate

that might await them if they don't land in a happy

child friendly place that stimulates their brains and

actually excites them about learning. The problem is

the schools, not the parents who flee schools that only

offer a curriculum reduced to pabulum & a look the

other way attitude about student behaviors. There are

huge numbers of parents who will refuse to accept this.

Do I want a fabulous learning environment for all

children? Hell yes! And I will fight for this at

every turn. Don't get me wrong non-charter public

schools do have families that are very involved,

teachers that care and administrators that get it. But

something is wrong when these parents, teachers and

administrators continue to have their efforts rebuffed

or are frustrated at every turn. Non Charter public

schools can work very well but these schools are fewer

and farther between and if I can't find one of those

I'm forced to find alternatives while still working as

an activist and advocate for a decent education for all

children. Some of the better charter schools might

lead the way.

A parent in
San Diego, CA

No comments: