Categories
Black Culture Charter Schools Education Education Reform School Choice

Stop Blaming Charter Schools for Schools Failing.

Let’s, please stop blaming charter schools for school failure.  I know we’re easy targets, but I assure you that education is just outright bad for PoC.

Pundits that are anti-charter school/ anti-school choice have stated:

“Black and LatinX parents aren’t smart enough to choose schools for their children.” To the individuals that are shaming these parents for choosing for their children, I say, “we’ve been down this road before.” Historically, we have always had folks telling us what’s best for us.

Regardless of where you stand on the school choice argument, the one fact that we can’t debate is parents have the absolute right to choose the education that best fits their children.

Healthy Competition.

Sports, occupations, politics, everyone has competition. The beauty of education is that no one model works for 100% of students. We are continually practicing new strategies to teach students.

Recently, some said, “parents choose charter schools because they don’t do their due diligence.” It’s 100% opposite. Parents are fed up with traditional public schools. They watched these same schools fail generations. Due diligence comes in the form generational poverty experienced by relatives that attended and continue to participate in these failure mills disguised as educational institutions. There is no better spokesperson than someone that has continuously failed at a task. The lived experience of these parents has to account for something.

Agree to Disagree.

So, we can agree to disagree on the intellectual prowess of those that seek choice. As a parent that has chosen to educate my child in a charter school, I find it somewhat non-sensical that folks have the nerve to question me about my child and my decision. I’ve done my “due diligence.” Now what? You want me to put my baby, in a school that has failed generations? But, I’m the crazy one?

For the last three years, we’ve spent close to undergraduate tuition at a state school in NY, to ensure our daughter was ready for pre-K. I know many families are not as blessed to be able to allocate that kind of money towards their child’s education. However, these are the very families that need more than just a status quo education for their children. A quality education should help to break cycles of poverty, and not continue to create them.

The Story.

Every school choice parent has a story. Every child of a choice parent that has attended a public school, and no longer attends that school also has a story as well. Instead of persecuting these parents, let’s find out their stories. Have you ever asked a school choice parent why they chose the school they selected? This type of dialogue would be far more engaging. It may also help to get to the root of the problem, why certain schools no longer work for certain types of students.

The Nuance of Blame.

Let’s be real here. Charter schools are relatively new. Experts may disagree on the era In which public schools began to deteriorate. You may have some that say public schools were never intentioned for Black and LatinX students. While others may admit to public schools not being since the end of the cold war, wherever these folks preside in the argument, one that is public schools need to improve for minority students.

Moreover, if you’ve never stared poverty in the face, don’t talk to me about the choices I make for my child.

Enough of the Blame Game.

Okay, people. Let’s grow up. We have identified the problem. It isn’t charter schools. It is terrible schools. Now that we’ve identified the problem as bad schools, how do we fix them? Blaming the competition is not the answer. Admitting there is a problem, and committing to addressing the issue is the first step towards resolving it.  Stop blaming charter schools.

We need genuine and thoughtful dialogue. Enough with this “Let’s Blame Charters argument because it is getting tired.”

Categories
Charter Schools Education Education Reform Special Education Success Academy

Successes and Failures of Success Academy.

Successes and Failures of Success Academy.

Any great school has its successes and failures.  I’m not saying we need to pick on everything that happens in every school, but when something does happen, we can’t stay quiet.

Full Disclosure.

I root for Success Academy like its no one’s business. As a charter school leader who wouldn’t? They boast some of the highest test scores in the state. For Black and LatinX parents, Success presents a strong argument that kids in the inner city are just as good if not better than affluent neighborhoods throughout the state of New York. I even send my teachers to their campuses every year as a part of their professional development. My thought process behind sending teachers to Success Academies to observe is, please don’t tell me Black and LatinoX students can’t achieve when we see it first hand that they can.

Eva as the Face of the Charter Movement.

Eva Moskowitz’s methods almost take away from everything that Success has accomplished. We can say, when you’re a top school, people are going to “gun” for you. I don’t buy this argument because other high performing charter schools manage to stay under the radar. Those charter schools aren’t as politically connected and don’t have a CEO that calls the mayor out every other week. Like it or not, Eva Moskowitz is the public face of the charter school movement.

The Current Controversy.

At current, Success Academy is embattled in a special education Civil Rights Violation scandal. In a complaint filed with the NY State Education Department, SA allegedly changed IEP’s without parent knowledge. If you know anything about the special education process, you know parents are an essential component and deciding determiner of the outcomes of IEP meetings. The mere thought of a school changing an IEP is implausible. In my mind and heart, I hope that there is a counter-narrative to explain these actions.

The Coverage.

All things being equal, I would not say I like writing bad things about charter schools. Charter schools already face an uphill battle contending with the anti-choice animus. However, if viewed as having an inability to police, and call out our own, that’s nothing short of hypocrisy. If we’re doing something wrong, it should be everyone’s business to call it out and offer suggestions as to how to improve things.

My Suggestion.

The work going on in the charter sector is too important for there to be one face. Eva is a constant target for charter school pundits. SA’s network is enormous and has a ton of talent. It may be time for the schools’ leaders to step into the forefront and be the faces of SA.

Eva’s work is too valuable on the grand scale of things, for her to continue to be the face of the organization. My advice would be to yield to the school leaders.

Moving the Work of Charter Schools Forward.

We have to call a spade a spade. If someone in the sector, no matter who it is, albeit CMO or Single-site charter is doing something wrong, we must all voice concerns. To remain silent is to stay complacent. I understand some of you are walking on eggshells. It’s okay if I lose followers or supporters for speaking about what’s right, those people were not the kind of folks that should be following me.

Categories
Charter Schools Education Education Reform Equity and Justice School Choice

The Anti-School Choice Noise

Anti-School Choice:

Currently, there is much animus between traditional public-school pundits and advocates of school choice. School choice includes charter schools.  In today’s society, I’m not sure how you can be an anti-school choice advocate.

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Admittedly, those that oppose and advocate against charter schools have some legitimate concerns. I consider them Anti-School Choice.

This post serves as advice on how to address the major concerns of those that are anti-charter schools.

Concern One: There is a shortage of African-American school leaders that run charter schools in urban areas. The lack of PoC in leadership positions is indefensible. Some folks are doing some great work around supporting leaders of color. One group that comes to mind is the National Charter Collaborative. This group’s very existence is to help charter schools’ leaders of color navigate in this space. I have not taken advantage of the NCC’s offerings.


Extending on Point One: A Charter School Rooney Rule:

The Rooney Rule requires that an NFL team with a head-coaching vacancy must interview one or more minority candidates for the position. Given the NFL’s woeful history of considering and hiring minority candidates to fill head-coaching slots until the implementation of the Rooney Rule, the question asked was whether Pittsburgh would have even considered Mike Tomlin as a candidate for the Steeler head job without the Rooney Rule (Proxmire, 2008).

Moreover, what about a Rooney Rule in public education? Meaning– really, organic, purposeful conversations centered on school leadership in areas that serve high poverty families of color. Urban school districts would benefit greatly from having more minority male candidates as teachers, leaders, superintendents.

Consequently, what if for every principal and school superintendent vacancy, urban school districts had to (in good faith) interview a qualified minority candidate? The action alone would mean the world to minority families that have lost faith in the system.


Addressing Concerns:

Concern Two: Two: Some charter schools are ill-equipped to deal with the psychological trauma experienced by its student body. No charter school is perfect, and yes, some schools are tone deaf when it comes down to measuring the needs of students beyond academic requirements.

Mental Health has been making headlines as of recent. It is particularly important for schools to equip themselves to handle all of the needs of the students beyond just their academic requirements. Charter schools should employ multiple Social Workers. If budget cuts are on the horizon, the last cuts are the school counselors. Often they are the first to be cut.

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Recruiting Diverse Staffs:

Concern Three: Charter School staffs do not reflect the student body of the students they serve. Charter schools are doing a better job with trying to recruit for diversity, but “trying to do, and doing” are not the same thing. Charter Schools need to commit to diversifying, and then become relentless about doing it. Diversifying is no easy task, but given the importance of the work we do, one can see the importance of hiring a diverse staff.


Concern Four:  Charter Schools have high teacher turnover.  images-6As a charter school leader, one thinks about teacher turnover a lot.  Leaders want teachers to be in good mental space.  Having a healthy work-life balance helps this tremendously.  For example, when we see teachers working late, we send them home.  There has to be some time dedicated to not thinking about work, to re-energize and center oneself on the difficult work that a teacher does.

Beyond teacher exit surveys, “WE,” need to do a better job at taking the pulse of teachers, and ensuring they remain happy in our schools.  Students thrive off of consistency.  Having a consistent face for students and families is meaningful.

Works Cited:

Proxmire, D. (2008). Coaching diversity: The Rooney rule, its application, and ideas for expansion. American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, 1-9.

 

Categories
Charter Schools Civil Rights Education Politics School Choice

Open Letter to Cory Booker

Open Letter to Cory Booker:

Dear Senator Booker,

We follow your career. Four your time on the Newark city council to your time as the mayor of Newark, you have always put the people first. You were the first politician to use social media as a way to interact responsibly with your constituents. Your organic rise to Senator of New Jersey is a story that will be told for generations. You make us proud.

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The Work Isn’t Done:

Moreover, the work isn’t done. We watch you on Capitol Hill day in and day out. You fight against the blatant racism the current Whitehouse exhibits. With numbers against you, we observe you interact respectfully with your Republican colleagues.  You come up with bi-partisan solutions to make our government run more efficiently. Your work noticeable, and it is appreciated.

Chris Christie, Cory Booker

School Choice:

Notwithstanding, as the keynote speaker at a recent school choice event in New Orleans you showed courage. Much like the Civil Rights leaders of yesteryear, you continue to show character and resilience. School choice is nothing new to you. Your work with Cami Anderson spearheaded to Newark Public Schools shedding state oversight.

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Your recent car tour with Civil Rights icon John Lewis was reminiscent of the Freedom Summers. The humility and respect that you show for the elders, both black and white is a trait that this country so desperately needs right now. Your interaction with former president Jimmy Carter and his urging you to run for president spurred me to pen this open letter to you.


Booker 2020:

All in all now is not the time to be humble. Now is not the time to allow friendships to interfere with your destiny.  I remember a train ride with H. Carl McCall, shortly after Elliot Spitzer won the governorship of NY.  I asked him candidly, “why didn’t you run”, he said because “Elliot was the guy.”  We all know how that story ended, and McCall missed his opportunity.

In summary, we need you as a candidate for the 2020 Presidential election.  With you as a candidate, it will shape policy, and make this a country for and about the people.  If you win, criminal justice reform, black unemployment, education reform will become staples of your administration.  We need this. Please consider this letter in deciding if you will run for president.

Categories
Charter Schools Education Education Reform Equity and Justice School Choice

Principal Resigns Amidst Video Surfacing

Principal Resigns:

Amistad Academy, located in New Haven Connecticut is a school that gives me mixed emotions.

Amistad High 2013 Signing Day

On the one hand, this school proves that if you pour resources into Students of color, they can achieve, and achieve at a very high level. Amistad is the number one ranked high school in Ct. It’s also the number 55th ranked high school in the US, and the 19th ranked charter high school in the United States, according to US News and World Reports.

Our (Riverhead Charter School’s) 9th grade starts in 2020-21. Amistad was definitely on our list of schools to visit.


Moreover, Amistad High School recently made news for a different reason. A video surfaced showing the principal of the school, physically accosting one of his former students. According to witnesses, this event took place in October; however, the principal stayed on the job sometime after that. That’s my concern. If someone poses a threat to students, schools can’t be in a wait and see position. The Amistad board should have placed its principal of paid leave until they thoroughly investigated the incident.

Many of my posts are pro-charter schools. I feel charter schools give SoC the best opportunity to succeed in education, but I have no problem calling out people that don’t act in the best interest of students. So to be clear, I’m an advocate for charter schools, but I put the interests of students before anything else. Parents and administrators have to defend the students over the institutions.


The video is graphic. Please keep that in mind as you view it.

My significant takeaways are, adults have to model the behavior that they expect from the students. Adults also have to allow “cooler heads to prevail” in times of high stress. How could this whole situation be avoided?

Categories
Charter Schools Education Education Reform Parenting School Choice

C’Mon Son!: Ed Reform Edition

Ed Reform:

At some point, yesterday, I looked in my email inbox and saw this hellacious article attacking the philanthropy of the Walton foundation. The article quotes an ‘education policy expert’ Dr. Andre Perry. I don’t even know what that means. But what I do know is that this type of divisive anti-charter rhetoric isn’t helpful to (PoC) that are exhausted with a lack of educational options for their children.


Ed Reform Hypocrisy:

I’ll never understand the perils that one goes through when he/she repositions his/her stance on Ed reform. I could never one day wake up and say, “the system is no longer broken, nor is it in need of reform.” Folks that switch positions like that are dangerous operatives, not ‘experts.’ Also, I’m wondering if the journalist asked Dr. Perry if he ever accepted any Walton money?


Whitewashing in Ed Reform:

The most alarming part for me is how Dr. Perry eludes to the Walton Family’s philanthropy as whitewashing education. How are traditional public schools not whitewashed? With less than two percent African-American male teachers in the United States, inevitably our policy expert could refocus this energy on more poignant issues in our communities.

With an educational record like Dr. Perry’s, you’d think he’d need an escort as well.

Failing Schools:

Moreover, Dr. Perry is a former CEO of a network of charter schools in New Orleans. Under his supervision, the schools performed poorly. Below are the state grades of the schools that Dr. Perry was positioned to govern during his tenure as CEO in the Recovery School District in New Orleans in 2010-11. Based on these results, no experienced journalist should ever quote Dr. Perry on anything charter relating to charter schools.


Dr. Perry's results UNO/RSD 2010-11

To date, my school nor I have never received any Walton foundation funding. I take personal issue with these “Edu celebs” that feel they know what’s best for black families. Both of my kids have attended my charter school. I’m in tune with parent choice as both a parent who exercises that right and a school leader that provides (PoC) with a viable alternative to traditional public schools.