"Charter co-locating at our school will harm... our democracy... It will teach my kids that segregation is OK."


public school sinking cartoon via Philly.com

We enrolled our twins in public schools and, for a short time, in a private school. The reason we switched to a private elementary school for two years is that our neighborhood school lost funding for art and music programs, and my kids needed them badly (as do all kids, but our boys were going through some very tough times, and drawing and painting were outlets we couldn't do without).

As soon as they became old enough to enter middle school, back to public school they went. We never looked back.

Analise Dubner has written a lengthy, substantive blog about her own child and the decisions that her family had to make regarding public v. private v. charter schools, and the bias against public schools.

Here are a few excerpts (bolding mine), but please link over to the entire must-read post:

My husband and I put our son into private school, even though we couldn't afford it. We did this without even looking at our local Elementary.  [...]

It was a fine school, yes, we liked it there, liked the teachers, made a few lifelong friends, our kid did well... we promptly burned through our savings, and just like that, it was over... So, we girded ourselves and walked bravely down to the School Of Ill Repute (known to others as Micheltorena Elementary), and we took the Open House tour. And ... 
...we @#$% loved it. [...]

What if I told you that you can actually take your local school and make it what you want it to be? I know that's not what you believe, not what you've been LED to believe. [...]

Turns out you can teach your kids just fine and still take that ridiculous test. I just pack a lunch for my kids, and we find ways to work around or with the rules we've got. I talk to my kids, help them with their projects, and I know they are engaged, smart and curious. That's the real litmus test.

We all know that there has been a movement in this country for the last 20 years to dismantle the very idea of public education and that it has led us to a place where a privately-run, unaccountable, sometimes-corporate Charter School is being touted as the answer. Some established, proven Charters (like many Public schools) are perfectly good schools, but if you've done any real homework, you have to know that these legions of new schools are just as likely to fail your kids as any public school, and that, often, these untried schools are (by law) allowed to paw through public school assets just to get started. [...]

[M]any Charters have younger, inexperienced teachers using untested "progressive" techniques created as lures for enrollment. So many parents end up as 'Charter-Hoppers' because these untested programs fail their children. I know you want to believe that 'new' is better because obviously 'old' has failed, right? I've got some shocking news. My son's 4th grade uses 'progressive' project-based learning techniques. I know! Public school! What-what?! [...]

This isn't about a bunch of local parents barking territorially at intruders. The Charter co-locating at our school will harm our kids, harm our school, harm our democracy. I'm sorry to put it so bluntly and so melodramatically, but that's what I believe. It doesn't just compete for enrollment, jeopardize our Elementary's future, take our classrooms, or bog down our Principal's already-stretched time with administrative haggling over resources; it will teach my kids lessons I only want them to read and puzzle over in history books - that segregation is OK. 

What did she just say? Why use such a loaded word? Because what we are seeing now is precisely what segregation is. This Charter, like so many others have done already in this very city, wants to put a dividing line down the middle of our school grounds so their kids aren't contaminated by our kids - in direct opposition to the very ideals this country is supposedly built on.

Just go read the rest of this piece, please. And then share it with as many people as you can.

By the way, this isn't a political piece, there is no mention of unions, guns, or religion. We've covered that in previous posts here at TPC.

Added: Here is a comment left by the author in response to one of her commenters:

Thank you so much for your reasonable comments. I KNOW you just want what's best for your kid and you think you found it. But I do want you to consider the consequences of this Charter's actions. I know you love what the CWC curriculum has to offer, but what if the price is too high to get it? That's all I'm really asking you to consider. The presence of this Charter at our school means: 1) Susanna has to spend time she doesn't have wrangling over resources, 2) we can no longer use the rooms (that we are using) that the Charter would take, 3) competition for much-needed enrollment at a VITAL time in our growth, 4) jeopardizing the dual language program we had intended to start next year, and, (to me) most importantly, 5) creating a sense on our campus, amongst our kids, that the Charter kids are different...sectioned off... BETTER than our kids. Why do we think this? We've already heard all the talk about how the Charter wants to hire security to "protect" their kids from ours. That the CWC was considering building a FENCE around the Bungalows they mean to occupy.Other co-locating Charters post teachers outside the bathrooms to make sure the public school kids don't go inside while a Charter kid is using them. Teachers instruct kids not to speak to each other.

So, Jane, please, honestly. Is that not segregation? You want to put your kid in that? How good does a curriculum have to be to make you want to create that kind of place for children? Ours... or yours?

And from another of her comments:

Healthy competition? Sure, compete away. But, would you consider it healthy competition if someone who dreamed of opening their own sandwich shop were to walk into an existing sandwich shop, steal their sandwiches and then sell them to the shop's customers out of the shop's bathroom?