Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What ALL Children Deserve

I completely understand the desire to provide the best education possible for children, but charter schools are NOT the solution, particularly if you believe, as I do, that ALL children deserve the best education possible.  Too few people know the damage charter schools are causing to our public school system.   Last night I went to the Highlands Ranch library to view a film titled The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman.  While I've had an opinion about charter schools for quite some time, this movie and discussion that followed inspired me to re-examine my beliefs and the facts about charter schools.  

At first glance, I can somewhat understand the appeal of charter schools for parents.   The idea of a school designed and run by people in their own communities, tailored to meet the specific needs of the kids in their communities may sound appealing, but this is not what charter schools are. What follows are ideas that do not sit well with me as I consider what charter schools are.

Charter schools are corporately funded for-profit schools syphoning money from true public schools.  Charter schools thieve money from schools that provide education for ALL students and use that money to educate only select students -- those who win the charter school lottery, those who do not have any additional needs including learning disabilities and English language learners, and those who willingly conform to whatever corporation has purchased the right to educate that child while they rake in hundreds of thousands of dollar salaries.   How is this PUBLIC education?   Why are our tax dollars going to this select group of kids instead of to ALL kids?  When we stop taking money away from our TRUE public schools, we can start to take steps towards giving all students the best education possible.  

Don't get me wrong, I see many other problems with charter schools than funding.  I have big questions about curriculum, instruction, philosophy, discipline, emphasis on testing (a problem in public schools thanks to politicians as well), and on and on, but the funding being stolen from our neighborhood schools sickens me.

Privatizing education is not how we are going to "fix" our education system.  

The Grassroots Education Movement, the group who produced this movie suggests the following ten ideas for real reform, all of which cannot be accomplished by the charter school movement.   For more information about these ideas and to view the movie check out their website:  http://www.waitingforsupermantruth.org/.

The best education possible is what all children deserve.

Real Reform #1:  Smaller Class Sizes
Real Reform #2:  Excellent Community Public Schools for ALL Children
Real Reform #3:  More Teaching – Less Testing
Real Reform #4:  Parent and Teacher Empowerment and Leadership
Real Reform #5:  Equitable Funding for ALL Schools
Real Reform #6:  Anti-Racist Education Policies
Real Reform #7:  Culturally Relevant Curriculum
Real Reform #8:  Expand Pre Kindergarten and Early Intervention Programs
Real Reform #9:  Qualified and Experienced Educators and Educational Leaders
Real Reform #10:  Democratic and Social Justice Unionism


  1. Very interesting. Thank you for sharing, Colleen. I am so curious as to where this group got their information because some of it does not mesh with my knowledge about charter schools--I feel that there are some over-generalizations here to say the least. There are some amazing charter schools out there (and some not-so-amazing ones, too--same with public schools). I'm curious as to how you feel about charter schools that cater to students who do not learn in a 'traditional school setting' or who are seeking an arts-based education or an expeditionary education or....??? I often wish that it didn't have to be one vs. the other.... Hmmmm... thanks for giving me more to ponder. Pondering is good.

  2. The movie did focus on NYC, so the information is most relevant there. I agree, of course this is a one-sided perspective of charter schools, but to me, if even half is true, it's worrisome. They referenced the Stanford study of charter schools throughout the movie which seems like fairly sound research to me. I spent some time on their website today. It's worth checking out.

    Regarding alternative schools for kids who struggle in the regular school environment: I believe that if we properly funded our public school system, we could provide support and interventions for these students to help them become more successful within the public school system. I know the alternative school in LPS does great things for the kids who need that kind of intervention. I do not believe it needs to be a charter school, though.

    Regarding magnet schools and the like -- I've been thinking about this a lot. I really am conflicted on this one. Part of me thinks that in some ways, the specialized schools are detrimental to kids. I know other countries do it, but I feel like younger than 18 (heck, sometimes younger than 25) is too young to really know what you want to do in life. Even if you believe you do, wouldn't it be better to have a more well-rounded education? That said, there are kids who excel in particular fields of study who would benefit from this kind of enrichment. Once again, though, couldn't these needs be addressed in a properly funded public school system where ALL kids have access to these schools and programs rather than just a select few?

    Yes, always more to think about and ponder. Thanks for pushing my thinking, as always, Tina!