Saturday, March 3, 2012

Charter Schools

I was watching to Melissa Harris-Perry's show on MSNBC this morning, really more listening since the TV is in one room but I split the sound to the office, after all they're just talking heads, about her piece on charter schools. I thought the story and discussion was disingenuous at best and biased at worse because she didn't present and they didn't discuss the fundamental arguments for public schools or against charter schools.

To begin with I went through my first 8 grades in military public schools on bases or posts, but then I went to a public junior high and high schools in my 9-12th grades. I'm for public schools. I'm for finding and providing all the necessary funds for improving the schools, paying teachers and providing better security for a safer schools.

The facts using test scores don't prove charter schools work. The host showed that 43% of charter schools aren't better than public ones and 37% are worse while only 17% are better. And that overlooks the obvious facts. One, charter schools cost more, or at least for the parents who pay even with tax credits. And two, charter schools siphon off the better and best students from public schools.

The problem with public schools is several fold but mostly it's the lack of money to accomplish what we expect and want from our public school system. And more often than not the school boards and the politicians short-change the public schools to simply prove they're failing while giving funds or tax credits to charter and home schools.

Then she had four guest, three of whom charter school their children as does Ms. Harris-Perry to discuss the issue. Like we expect an honest case to be made for solutions to public schools with 4 of the 5 against public schools. Yes against because while they may voice views to help public schools, they choose with their money, which clearly shows they're biased against public schools.

So why not fix the problems of public schools? The argument has been made that all these years of trying, it's failing, but that's only because they barely tried, especially in school districts of lower to low income home, in areas of gangs and high crime rates, in areas of racial minorities. In short, they never tried beyond words.

The vast majority of charter schools are in middle to upper class, white districts where parents can have and afford choices. If they tried charter schools in other districts, they'd only duplicate what public schools do, as we see from the 37% failure rate of charter schools in better neighborhoods.

And let's not forget all charter schools are new where all pubic schools exist in districts with buildings and facilities long overdue for renovation or replacement, which only drives up costs used to further charter schools. If charter schools had to build similar campuses without endowments or foundations to fund them or moderatly to very wealthy parent to pay the tuition, we'd see the cost of charter schools match public schools.

And let's not forget charter schools aren't union, don't pay high salaries, don't provide retirement and other benefits found in long standing public school teacher contracts. Public school districts have pension plans charter schools don't have to pay into for their teachers. See the number adding up against public schools.

So, let stop blaming public schools, blaming teachers, blaming students and blaming parents. Let's just stop blaming and start fixing. Forget using test scores except to ensure students are learning. Forget pinching pennies and making schools and teachers political fodder. Forget making comparisons of unequal datasets of students and test scores.

Rather than talking about, especially blaming, school districts, schools, teachers and students, let's start fixing it. If those who espouse charter schools are the way, why not make public schools better than charter schools. And then what would the arguments sound like for charter schools? Like we would care?

If we don't, what's the future for students, the future generation of this country? Do we care? Or is it the charter school proponents don't want us to care to keep weakening public schools for advancing charter schools? Is that our future, for profit education? For profit school districts? And if you can't afford it, tough?

No comments:

Post a Comment