Categories
Charter Schools Education Reform

Diane “21 Savage” Ravitch

Diane “21 Savage” Ravitch.

Diane ” 21 Savage” Ravitch in her most recent blog post states, “To understand the charter industry, you must appreciate that it is driven by extremely wealthy people and has no grassroots.”

Ms. Ravitch’s assertion that the charter school industry is not a grassroots movement couldn’t be further from the truth. The textbook definition of grassroots is as follows: Grassroots, type of movement or campaign that attempts to mobilize individuals to take some action to influence an outcome, often of a political nature.  Black and Brown folks have marched, lobbied, and have a pretty extensive ground game when it comes to getting educational choice for their children.

21-21-21.

I feel like every time Mrs. Savage blogs, she needs to write 21-21-21, as a precursor for the savagery she depicts in her writing.  Savagery, in this instance, relates to how she misleads the reader into thinking that the only way to save traditional public schools, is to invest only in conventional public schools.

In my opinion, this is deficit thinking.  It amazes me at how people (like Mrs. Savage) with the most access always feel like they need to think for poor folks.  Often times they negate ones lived experience by inserting their expert views.  These loud sirens exhibited by these so-called experts often drown out the help signals that are blaring.  Black and brown folks are tired of being told what to do with their children, they want options, and no expert will convince them otherwise.

An odd fact that Mrs. Ravitch and those that think like her conveniently forget, is schools were bad way before charter schools.

School Choice Pushes The Envelop.

Moreover, charter schools push the envelope daily. Black and Brown families overwhelmingly want charter schools and school choice options for their children. To try and persuade others of anything different just tells you how much of a disconnect there is between those that are fortunate vs. those that have been historically disenfranchised.

Black and Brown Folks Favor School Choice.

According to a recent study by the American Federation for children, 67% of families support choice in where they send their kids to school. This is up 4% from 2018. You can find more information on the study by clicking on this link https://www.federationforchildren.org/national-school-choice-poll-shows-67-of-voters-support-school-choice-2019/.

Mrs. Ravitch likens support to charter schools as being the whose who in philanthropic support. In her blog, she states, “Being a supporter of charter schools is like belonging to the right clubs, going to the right parties, sharing a cause with other wealthy people.”  I’m not sure what clubs Mrs. Ravitch attends, but I can assure you they have exclusivity.

School Choice Evens The Playing Field.

Mrs. Ravitch fails to mention is what the cause is, and who the cause benefits. Plain and straightforward, school choice evens the playing field that was once dominated by traditional public schools. Charter schools are not the enemy. View charter schools as a way to keep its Traditional Public school sibling honest. Traditional public schools fail families. Nowadays, Mrs. Ravitch conveniently glosses over outcomes and accountability to gaslight issues that don’t matter to the poor.  Black and Brown folks want quality schools for their kids.

Gaslighting Like Trump.

Mrs. Ravitch savagely attempts to link the work we do in the charter sector to Jeffery Epstein. Epstein is a pedophilic sicko. I’m sure anyone school that accepted funding from him would be happy to disavow. I also didn’t read where she addressed the pedophiles that are saturated throughout schools, mainly traditional public schools.

For example, Rhode Island–  Oddly enough, I have not read one-word form Mrs. Ravitch or any public schools supporters disavowing themselves from what’s currently happening in Rhode Island.  To bring you up to speed, the teacher’s union is fighting tooth and nail to continue allowing teachers dating students to be non-criminal.  This ass-backwardness has gotten little to no attention from Savage or the likes.  I wonder why?

Categories
Black Culture Charter Schools Education Reform Equity and Justice

Open Letter to Senator Sanders Re: Charter Schools

Open Letter to Senator Sanders.

Dear Senator Sanders,

I get it. You are behind in the polls, and things are seemingly impossible. Senator Sanders, the magic in the bottle that you once had has escaped the bottle. Therefore, in desperation, you have to go out on edge to separate yourself from the other Democratic Candidates for the 2020 election.

I’d rather see you buck the system, and support school choice for the poor and disenfranchised.

In the 2016 Election cycle, you struggled to make headway with African-American voters. This may have been one of the main reasons that you aren’t currently sitting in the Whitehouse as president. Instead of correcting the mistakes made by your campaign in 2016, and your desire to be a provocateur, you are again isolating yourself from the votes you need to become electable.

Senator Sanders is Out of Touch.

Black Folks didn’t vote for you in 2016 because they thought you were out of touch, or for that matter never in touch with the Black Community. It was alleged that you frequently avoided Black folks in your home state of Vermont. Nothing says out of touch more than your recent suggestion to place a moratorium on charter schools.

Your new policy should have focused on putting an end to bad schools. Those are the schools that perpetuate death gaps that exist in our country. Students are graduating High School reading below an 8th-grade reading level. Rather than oppose the choice of Black and LatinX parents, you should be standing up for these families.  America, at least for the rich, is about choice.  You have some nerve proposing a measure that would take away opportunities from the poor and disenfranchised.  This policy shows just how out of touch you are with communities of color.  Maybe you should run for president of the NAACP?  You all seem very aligned, but yet very out of touch with the pulse of the poor and disenfranchised.

Politics Aside Senator Sanders.

Senator Sanders, I am familiar enough with your story to know a leopard doesn’t change his spots. I take you for your word when you talk about limiting educational options for people of color. It’s okay to be pro-union. I know a lot of this effort behind the assault on school choice is spearheaded by politicians that want the historical blue union vote. Alas, you may receive and be endorsed by the Teacher’s unions. But, I task the Black Community to show you in consecutive elections that your inability to be in touch with our needs will haunt you dearly at the polls.

Is Bernie Bought?

Bernie Sanders talk so much about not being influenced by Wall Street and holding others accountable. It is time that we remind you as an elected official, you don’t choose what’s best for us, we determine what’s best for us. On the last day of National Charter School week, and hours after the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board, you have the nerve to come out with this atrocious policy? It’s cowardice and reflective of the fact that maybe Senator Sanders, you been compromised.

Concluding thought on Bernie’s Vibes.

The black community is very fickle towards folks telling us what to do. Senator Sanders, in my mind, two hot-button topics exist in the United States right now. 1) Infringing on the rights of women. I’m a man, so the last thing in the world that I’m going to do is tell a woman what she can or can’t do with her body. 2) School choice. The last thing that I’m going to do is tell a historically disenfranchised sector of my base when and where they should send their children to school. To do either is political suicide. I can’t wait until we have the opportunity to go to the polls to let you know how we feel about your charter school moratorium.

Categories
Education Education Reform Equity and Justice sexual abuse in schools trauma

Principal as Protector

A principal’s job is to protect his/her students.  However in those rare instances when principals don’t play their role, students suffer.

Where do I start?

I honestly don’t know where to start with this one.  You hear about it so often that you become numb to it.  Yet daily, there’s some kind of story that depicts an educator taking advantage of a student in a sexual manner.  Often times then not, these predators face no jail time and depending on how strong their union is, many get to keep their licenses.  The lack of morality exhibited by some educators is indeed a Black-eye on the profession.

Principal as Protector.

When I think about my time as a principal, I think about how it was my job to protect my students.  To shield students from harm and ensure their safety.  I wanted to be that person that students and families could come to if there were uncertainty.  These are the types of qualities that I view are essential to the principalship.

At a Lost for Words.

If you know me, you know I’m never at a lost for words.  But if I may be candid, this one is too close to home not to feel a certain way about it.  We witness educators who exhibit questionable judgment daily.  Research from 2004 states the abuse that happens in Catholic schools pales in comparison to the injury that occurs in public schools.  Typing this has me feeling sickly. But even with these feelings, if we aren’t pushing the conversation forward, how are we protecting our students?

Riverhead High School Principal.

Our school, the Riverhead Charter School, is located within the Riverhead School District.  We attract 50% or more of our students from the District.  So when I say this is close to home, it really is close to home.  The Riverhead High School principal is accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student.  While I fully support everyone having their day in court, this one is different.  As a principal of a school, your job is to protect your students.  Our students leave us in 8th grade and move on to high school.  This could have been one of my students.

                                                  District Stance.

I couldn’t imagine being the superintendent in this district.  The principal has been reassigned with pay pending the investigation.  According to reports, the school district could not immediately fire the principal due to his tenure.  Everyone believes that there can only be one outcome.  I’m a pessimist when it comes down to things like this.  I’ve seen privilege make the worst situations seem not so bad.

My immediate takeaways.

It’s important to highlight that our charter school, currently a K-8 charter school, serves as somewhat of a feeder to the Riverhead Central School District.  Our pool of students is about 50%, RCSD residents.  As a result, many of my in-district students end up going back for High School within the district. 

Riverhead Charter School Needs a High School.

I say this to say a couple of things, 1) We need a high School ASAP.  Fortunately for us, we were approved to go up to grade 12, but our 9th grade doesn’t start until 20-21.  2) There’s a high level of trust that must be maintained between our school and the district.  Currently, we have no working relationship with our district.  Last summer I met with the District’s highest official, and the response was a cold one.  I was told that my school is the competition.  My response was classic, “the only people we are in competition with is ourselves.”

What if the Principal was Black?

Now for the ultimate wrinkle: What if this principal were black or Latinx?  I know some folks will say, why do we always have to talk about race?  My response to that statement is, why would we not talk about race?  Especially in a country that continually ignores its working poor.  As a society, we need to have more conversations centered around equity, and sometimes the lack thereof.  Especially when it comes down to students receiving a fair opportunity to learn.

 

Categories
Charter Schools Equity and Justice School Choice Teaching and Learning

New York City Specialized High School -BS-

The commitment to diversity in New York Specialized High School is B-S.  These students deserve better.  They deserve our attention.

If this latest Varsity Blues scandal combined with the abysmal acceptance rates of Black students in New York Specialized High Schools isn’t a wake-up call, what is?

Varsity Blues Scandal.

In light of the Varsity Blues scandal, we’ve had to stare privilege in the face and admit that the mighty dollar can buy school choice. Hollywood heavyweights were caught in a pay to play scheme that gave their children a competitive advantage in college admissions over Black and LatinX students. The Varsity Blues scandal should not come as a shock. Our educational system has always been this way.

New York City Specialized High School is B-S.

The NYC Specialized High School admission process may not be the same as the Varsity Blues scandal, but I will be darn if there are not any similarities. The Have’s are still in positions to benefit immensely from admissions. While the have nots struggle to make decisions about where to send their kids for high school. In Stuyvesant High School, there were 895 spots open to the incoming freshman class, only 7/895 of the admitted are Black. That’s .0078.

 

It’s insane and deserves political outrage. I believe this deserves a “Public School New Deal.” Hell, we can even make the deal green too, if it’ll make people act on it.

Truly Commit to Diversity.

The system needs fixing. Instead of talking about a system reboot, put in the work. Instead of catering to the affluent, let’s commit to creating an equitable system. Any other talk about building diverse systems is fluff. Black and LatinX folks are tired of the dust. We are tired of the sit back and wait your turn type attitudes that the affluent inflict upon the poor.

If the System Remains Broken.

If the system remains broken, and the Haves continue with their dominance, we should not dare blame parents for expressing a need for choice. Charter schools provide PoC hope. Our current educational system is bleak. The proof is in the results. We are not going to wait around while you all figure this out. We are going to make the best decisions for our children. You can judge all you want, be we won’t be sitting idly by while you fix the problem that you created. New York City specialized high school needs a reset.

My concluding thought is simple, fix the system. But until that system is problem free, please don’t you dare tell us where to send our kids to school.

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 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.