Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Clinton at AFT--Let's Learn from Public Charter Schools

I listened intently to Hillary yesterday. She hit a lot of notes that were clearly aimed to resonate with teachers. We need to pay you more. We need to fix crumbling schools. We need to support unions. You'll have a seat at the table.

I think Randi also mentioned the seat at the table thing. I am bone weary of hearing about that seat at the table. I mean, why the hell are we even at a table with the likes of Bill Gates, who places millions of dollars behind every baseless whim that crosses his mind? Why are we subject to the caprices of a man who sends his kids to a school that uses none of the methods he inflicts on our children? What the hell is this man doing at the table and what qualification does he have besides all that money?

Here's one thing that's already on the table--Hillary Clinton supports charter schools, the preposterous competition to our public school system. She makes a ridiculous distinction--that she supports "public" charter schools. Now what the hell are public charter schools? Charters, by nature, take public money and then do whatever the hell they please. If you allowed a kid to pee her pants in your classroom you'd be subject to CR A-420, corporal punishment.

Let me ask you this--what would you do if a teacher allowed your kid to pee her pants for test prep rather than go to a bathroom? Me, I'd want to throw that teacher out a window or something. I don't send my kid to school for that. In fact, I'd be upset with you if you caused my dog to have an accident.

But Hillary doesn't have these issues. After all, her campaign manager is a longtime reformy. Beyond the whole pants wetting thing, don't believe for one minute that "public charter schools" take the same kids we do. I teach beginning ESL students, and you won't see them at a Moskowitz Academy anytime soon. You see, kids who don't speak English tend not to achieve the test scores around which the Moskowitz Academy is built. Nor do special education students, for the most part. Eva can take kids with mild special needs, but you won't see her taking the alternate assessment kids my school accepts as a matter of course. Not on this astral plane anyway.

Charters can make all sorts of demands on working parents. You have to show up to help every now and then. You have to take the day off and come to Albany to lobby, along with your kids. And if you don't show up, they can toss your kids. If your kid is too much trouble, they can be placed on a got to go list. I mean, I guess you can sue the Moskowitz Academy if they do that to your kid, but why should you be placed in such a position at all?

Reformies used to push vouchers, but communities almost always voted against them. They quickly learned that charter schools were easier to sell. And they've done a fantastic job of selling them. Who'd have expected Hillary could push "public charter schools" without a whimper from the AFT crowd?

There was just a little hubbub during the speech. At one point, a group behind me started chanting, "Black lives matter." A larger group started chanting, "Hillary." During the back and forth, Hillary kept speaking. For a while I couldn't hear her, but I kept wondering whether she heard the protestors. After a while the protestors changed their chant to, "Stop the deportations."

I can't say whether or not it would have been a good idea for Hillary to engage the protestors. What I can say is that Hillary, who sent her own kid to an elite private school that does not embrace reforminess, said a test of a good school, for her, was whether or not she'd send her children or grandchildren there. The fact is she had exactly one chance to choose a school, and chose one that was not public, that most of us could not afford, and that certainly did not embrace programs famously used by the "public charter schools" we could "learn from."

And what can we learn from them?

I think Jim Horn is right on the money here, and I'm not inclined to learn that. I treat kids I teach better than that, and all kids deserve better than that. How we in the AFT can look the other way while Hillary blurts out such outrageous nonsense is beyond me.
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