Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Charter schools can be very popular with parents. Given the potential advantages, a little wee-in-the-pants accident may not mean so much. So, "Don't Steal Possible." And, while you're at it, "Don't Steal Pissable" either.
Understandably, parents want to put their children in environments conducive to learning. High rates of suspension and the policy of "counseling out" can reduce potential disturbances. So what, if you have inexperienced teachers, fresh out of college? You don't have to deal with behavior you don't understand if discipline problems are solved by sending "distractive influences" back to the public schools. The charter-school teacher's time can now be spent on prepping well-behaved kids, with the threat of expulsion hanging over their heads, instead of disciplining students.
If charters have a secret sauce for "Success," it is not their largely inexperienced, nonunionized workforce. It is:
1. smaller class size (sometimes under 15)
2. failure to "backfill" to the same degree
3. strict discipline codes
4. high suspension rates
5. a greater focus on test prep
6. counseling out students who might not succeed by school standards
7. choosing students from a selective lottery process, subsequent to an application process, pretty much guaranteeing a certain caliber of parental concern and involvement
So, what if we create more and more charters? The likes of Eva will end up exiling the very kids who might benefit the most from smaller class size and greater funding. They are dumped back into the public schools. There will be too many in overcrowded, underfunded classrooms.
The proliferation of charter schools creates two increasingly divergent and unequal systems. The two tier system is evident in any school that colocates with a Success Academy. The charter school sector will seem to thrive with highly disciplined kids, focused on doing well on tests. But what will be the long-term effects of a prison-like atmosphere of silent children marching hallways in lockstep? I do not know.
I do know, however, if charters truly were interested in helping society, they would take the neediest kids, including those with behavioral issues, learning disabilities and severe language deficiencies. They would focus their abundant resources on trying to help these kids soar in less restrictive environments of smaller class size. They would function as truly public schools and work with everyone in the community. Instead of sorting society, they would guarantee Success for all. They would not "steal the possible" from anyone. Instead, they would steal the "pissable" and flush it out of their system.