The purpose of this blog is to know and understand the teacher's perspective concerning current issues on education reform and the teaching profession. Inputs from the ones who probably knows what is best for students academically -- the teachers -- are rarely considered in decision making of policies. Yet, these so-called education experts and lawmakers dictate how we do our jobs and what we should teach. That's not right!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The "Choice" is Yours: Can You Get With This...?

Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it. ~ Adolf Hitler

Recently, I stumbled across and started following several education blogs, including Failing Schools. In one of its recent blog entries, one of Failing Schools' bloggers discussed the real disparities in school choice for NYC's disadvantaged families i.e., poverty-stricken and/or predominately-minority communities. For many of these families, they either have to settle for mediocre school options or send their children back to public schools. In addition, as in the case in NYC, many communities are shunned out of the school choice process; the choice is made for them, not the other way around!  I always thought a choice was a voluntary act! The video clip below sheds some light on the dilemma with charter schools in NYC:

This is nothing new, as I discovered two months ago with the over-hyped success stories of education reform in my hometown of New Orleans. While the area has received welcome attention it so deserves, the success of its charter schools are in question, with many of its critics citing similar complaints as the families in NY.

Also, education historian Diane Ravitch exposed a noteworthy flaw in one of the charter schools profiled in the film, Waiting for Superman. SEED Charter School in DC is praised and celebrated in the movie for its high graduation rates. However, there lies a serious attrition problem there as a beginning cohort of 7th graders dwindled in number upon their senior year at the school. So what happen to the others in the cohort who couldn't make it at SEED? Need I say more?

Back in NYC, one of its well-known charter schools, Success Academy/Success Charter Network, is looking to expand into the Upper West Side. With most of its charter schools located in Harlem, Success Academy founder Eva Moskowitz wants to offer "school choice" options to affluent families as well. Despite the resistance Moskowitz is facing from parents and community leaders, she is planning to move ahead as scheduled, although the charter hasn't been approved yet. Overconfident? Indeed! The former city councilwoman has enhanced her political clout since the founding of her successful charter schools and due to her political and financial connections within the Success Academy's board of trustees, as noted in this scathing article detailing the politics and big business implications of charter school operations.

As emotionally moving the lottery scenes were in Waiting for Superman, I was irked by them. Not only were the families treated as potential charity cases, but also these families are really not given a choice. Their hope for a better education depends on luck, not choice; the only thing they choose is whether or not to enter their children into these lotteries for admission into these charter schools. Plus with the greater latitude charter school organizations have for expansion and deregulation due to its powerful bipartisan support base and growing popularity, families trying to "get in where they fit in" will have to endure more disappointments ahead. They shouldn't have to try to get a better education for their children; the options should be available for their choosing. Unfortunately, charter schools are becoming like a big tease to these families; they look good, sound good, but the road to get in and stay in is far from good. Yet, it doesn't matter to those in charge; one way or another, they will maintain the support and get the money, at the expense of the misguided hope of the disenfranchised.

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