In Agreement And Response To Charter Schools – A New Form of Colonialism
Public education may not be a fundamental right under our constitution, but it is protected by The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. However, as Dr. Greanoff stated, public schools seem to now be on the road to extinction, and it is frightening. A large component of this problem, stems from many politicians and their promotion of the charter school system. The public has been repeatedly misinformed about charter schools. Some think they are private schools, others think children will receive “safer,” or “better” education by attending such institutions. Sadly parents are being manipulated and mislead.
While working in a charter school run by an Akron Industrialist (no educational background), I quickly found that our students’ safety was not a concern. Many of my students’ families were under the impression that their child was attending some type of private school, and that it was safer from the local public school. However, many of our students enrolled because they were expelled from the local public school system. Expulsion is serious and good kids were put into classes with others who had been “kicked out,” and mostly for physically violent offenses. The worst part was that these poorly- behaved children were accepted because the charter would receive more money for that individual child. Although months later, after the funds were used and if that same child continued his/her negative behavior, they could be expelled from the charter too. Unfortunately, the behaviors usually did persist but the student couldn’t’ be expelled again until close to the end of the school year. The other students already had suffered significant disruption to their education, the damage was done.
During my years at the charter school I met many hard-working teachers. Since the job market was very competitive many of my colleagues were certified teachers who just had a passion for teaching, but you can only take so much abuse. After years of experiencing an inadequate income, poor health benefits, mandatory extended hours and students that were a physical danger to you, many of those teachers left. The turnover was constant and who could blame the teachers! As a parent, it would concern me to see teaching staff change constantly like a revolving door, that says something! Since there was such a problem with turnover, I found that this particular charter would hire teachers who were not certified. Not only were students frequently experiencing inconsistencies in the classroom, but now their new teacher may be an accountant with no educational background. He/she might be good with numbers but doesn’t have a clue of how to work with kids. Most of my public school teaching colleagues have at least two degrees in education; an education degree, and a master’s degree in a specialty area (math, reading, etc.). In addition to this experience, public school teachers must continue their education classes to keep their teaching license. Public schools require this of their teachers, some charters do not. This school was also allowed to hire administration that had no experience in teaching or administration. While working at this charter, I had a 22 year-old vice principal who had taught for a year and had absolutely no administrative experience. She was still in the resident educator program for beginning teachers. Most public schools require administration, such as principals, to have some teaching experience and a degree in educational administration.
At this point, I am sure you’re asking yourself if these schools are so corrupt, why are folks like Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education (promoter of charters with little education background) and Christopher Ruszkowski, New Mexico’s Education Secretary praising the phenomena that is the charter school system. First, they are promoting charters with false advertising, “they function on less money than the public school. ” What they don’t share is that charter schools receive federal funds like the public schools, and continuous donations from the founder of the institution, large local business and board members. They use these donations as tax write-offs. In actuality they are receiving a lot more money than public education. Most of these charters are for-profit schools, so why are they receiving donations and federal funding? Although, even the non-profits are receiving this funding. The local businesses making donations and the company that initially started the school gets continuous breaks. Another myth selling the charter school trend is that they are “better performing” schools. The Ohio Department of Education lists the state report cards for each district, now the report card is much more stringent than it use to be for all schools, but look at the reports for the charter schools most of them in the Cleveland area are not good, many are significantly lower than our public schools (http://education.ohio.gov/Topics/Data/Report-Card-Resources). Furthermore, there are some folks who think teachers make too much money and that our benefits should be cut to save federal monies. These folks figure we can cut teacher’s salaries and benefits and hire educators for a whopping 25k a year. However, they don’t think about what kind of teaching force they will attract with this lack of support, our children will pay the price. Ironically, most of these individuals send their children to private schools, so why are they interfering with our families that depend on public education?
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