Do You Hear What I Hear? It’s The Sound of Fear-Mongering and Parent-Shaming

The Associated Press’ story blaming charter schools for re-segregating schools has the ed reform community in a tizzy. Thought-leaders, policymakers, and advocates have lit up Twitter, and rightfully so, crying foul about a story that supports the tragically irresponsible claim made by the NAACP and AFT (American Federation of Teachers union) last summer.

I get it. People are afraid. As more charters experience success, the greater the potential for the closure of traditional public schools, thus, job loss. So the strategy to label charter schools agents of segregation is a pretty desperate attempt to save jobs, maintain control of marginalized families, and protect the business of masking shit as free and appropriate education.

The AP story was careful to keep the premier teacher’s union and the NAACP out of the spotlight, but the remnants of this summer past can be detected in each line. Remember when AFT chief Randi Weingarten called charter schools and vouchers “slightly more polite cousins to segregation?” And the Reverend Al Sharpton had to chime in:

Maybe it’s a coincidence that the AFT, NAACP, and AP are all calling charter schools segregationists. I wonder if they also believe the audacious accusation that schools full of kids of color cannot succeed. “‘Desegregation works. Nothing else does,” said Daniel Shulman, a Minnesota civil rights attorney.”

Many of my grandparent’s generation lament desegregation as they blame it for breaking up the village. The tight-knit community of professionals and laborers and artists formed to defend the volatile world around them. Schools and churches were the beacons of these communities and no child was left behind. Enter Generation X, one generation removed from real segregation as Chris Stewart defines as “the state-enforced separation of races and the assignment of minorities into inferior conditions.”

As a Gen X-er, I was forced to attend schools in the suburbs with middle-class white kids and, in turn, forced my kids to do the same. I believed that black and poor kids could only succeed by attending school with white, wealthy kids in their neighborhoods.

But today’s parents of color have figured it out and those accustomed to controlling our narratives are terrified. Clearly, for charter school parents diversity is not the priority as they walk towards educational options that fit. Their steps are loud and the message is clear “This school meets my child’s needs. Period.” More importantly, with their feet, traditionally marginalized parents are sprinting from efforts that work to ensure they stay in the margins. 

There are so many shades of wrong coming out of this AP story, but the most egregious act committed is the attack on black and brown parents. Shamelessly shaming them for doing what every white and wealthy parent in America does – selecting the best educational situation for their babies.

The NAACP, AFT, and AP-types should be ashamed of themselves.

And, by the way, we cannot talk racial isolation and segregated schools without discussing housing patterns. So where do you live and how is that working out for your children? 

 

“We Believe Black People Must Seek That Education By Any Means Necessary.”

During the most recent Tennessee legislative session, the subject of vouchers was indeed the star of the show. While the existence and proliferation of charter schools is a hot topic around here, the discourse on using public dollars for private schools (vouchers) is transitioning from slow burn to a full-blown fire. Even though several bills were introduced during the 2017 session, only one passed, but there’s more to come in 2018. Here’s my take on the 2017 session.

What’s Up With Vouchers?

The argument for and against vouchers is very similar to that of charters. Supporters believe vouchers provide additional choices to families, particularly to the traditionally underserved. Meanwhile, the opposition believes the motivation behind vouchers is an agent of privatization and, therefore, will administer the final blow to public education. Sound familiar?

In this The 74 article, three great minds leading the national education debate joined forces to state the case for vouchers for Black children. Whether you love ’em or loathe ’em, this case for vouchers cannot be easily dismissed. You be the judge.

Check out Howard Fuller, Marquette University professor, Derrell Bradford of EVP of 50CAN, and Chris Stewart, CEO of Wayfinder Foundation:

Critics of school choice programs find the politics of empowering Black families with the wider range of options available to wealthier families difficult, but we don’t. Some may find it radical to believe that we should use every school available to ensure our children are educated. We don’t. Some may believe that the quest for “choice” and the historic role of private schools in education is a moral and historical inconvenience. Indeed, the opposite is true: It’s a necessity. Some believe vouchers and other forms of parent choice are a threat to democracy. The real threat to democracy is an uneducated populace. We believe Black people must seek that education by any means necessary.

Changing the Game: 26 NEW Rules for the Ed Reform Debate

Originally posted on Citizen Education by Citizen Contributor on March 23, 2017.

Chris Stewart of Education Post and blogger extraordinaire gives us food for thought about how to approach the ed reform debate; and it happens to fits nicely with the March 29th Volume and Light post  “They Planning for Our Future, None Of Us Involved.”

Buckle up.
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The narrative of people who oppose ‘school choice’ is well documented. The same talking points are brought up again and again and usually dominate the conversation.  It’s time to re-frame the narrative, get real about the misinformation being spread and lead these conversations with a children-first line of thought. Here are Citizen Stewart‘s 26 new rules for the education reform debate:

 

1. If you’ve never agonized about selecting a school for your kid, don’t oppose choice.

2. If you aren’t currently responsible for closing the achievement gap, shut up about those who are – you are not an expert. Just listen.

3. If you don’t believe that poor children and children of color can learn at high levels, don’t teach in their schools.

4. If you benefited from a private school education, don’t come up with fancy reasons to deny others the same.

5. If your only experience in teaching low-income students is bad experience, don’t write a book about education.

6. Do not oppose School Reform until you are willing to put your child in the worst performing school in your city.

7. On Twitter, don’t start none, won’t be none.

8. If your public school is so exclusive that it might as well be private, don’t rail about privatization in education.

9. If you’ve never raised a black child, don’t argue with black parents about what’s best for black children.

10. There are no experts on teaching black students in America. At best you are all students of teaching black students.

11. Don’t exchange studies written by people who have failed schools in their past.

12. If your doctorate is in Amazonian trees with an focus on intersectionality, don’t argue with economists about education statistics.

13. Union funding is as suspicious as any funding. You are not pure and neither is your agenda. Don’t be a tool.

14. Great instruction, great teachers, and great schools make a difference. All children can learn.

15. There is nothing liberal about demanding historically oppressed people to turn their children over to the state to be educated.

16. Only a damn fool looks to their enemy for ideas about educating their own children.

17. Public education and public schooling are two different concepts

18. There is nothing Democratic about selecting education leaders through low-turnout elections overwhelmed by public worker money.

19. Any meeting of education professionals that doesn’t touch on student outcomes is the wrong meeting.

20. An employee occupies a classroom. To call your self an “educator,” you must have observable results.

21. Stop hoping for one-best-system to educate “all kids.” It sounds like a compassionate goal, but given the unique needs of kids it’s not

22. Yes, poverty matters, which is why you should teach your ass off, or quit.

23. The revolution will be literate and numerate. Test scores matter.

24. Black achievement is not dependent on proximity to whiteness. Integration is not a panacea, and sometimes it’s social suicide.

25. America has thousands of half-empty urban schools. Let’s not “talk” about integration or evil school closures. Solve both, enroll now.

26. Concerned about schools “choosing their students”? Call your Congress members and ask for a ban on using addresses to enroll students.