Mystery Education Theater 3000

Contradictions in the Controversy over Charters


One of the interesting tensions in charter school battles is between progressives who look at charter schools as just a conspiracy of businessmen and, on the other hand, black and Latino people who see black and Latino students getting an education they wouldn’t otherwise. The progressives often seem to regard these people as deluded dupes. While often aligning with progressives otherwise, the people themselves, in this case, just want results.

This kind of tension doesn’t usually surface explicitly, but, at a local Democratic club hosting a panel on education that was really just about charters, it did surface. Audience member Scottie Smith, a long-time African American activist in the West Contra Costa Unified School District, got fed up with the charter-bashing from the panel and gave an interesting statement of her frustrations.

Hear it.

Categories: WCCUSD

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  1. By the way, I am not against the Restorative Justice program, just use it when appropriate.

  2. I will listen to Mrs. Smith’s comment soon, but one thing that comes to mind is that if my memory is accurate, I thought some of the very policies that she advocates with respect to handling of disciplinary issues, are the very policies causing parents to seek charter schools, that people like Mrs. Smith are not tough enough on those students who perpetrate bad, even bullying, behavior. Everyone wants to use this “restorative justice” program for every problem under the sun, even Mr. Panas. At some point, with this policy, victims of abusive behavior, are being made to appear as partners in a spousal dispute, that they need to “work it out.” Some level of “bullying” has been lumped into the “conflict” category. I was bullied a lot of a kid, and so help me if some admin decided to force me to sit down with the bully to work it out, instead of just kicking his ass out of school for a few days. Some of these punks need that. So, in the instances when these lax policies do not work, everyone is running for charter schools, including some of the proponents of these sometimes misused policies. In fact, when these policies are misused, they actually become a valid reason for a charter school, because who would argue against a safer alternative. And we know the perps of bad behavior will most likely not show up at your charter school, because very often these students do not have engaged parents who would make the effort to enroll them. At least that’s my take on it.

    • Giorgio,
      Long time no hear, but it’s good to see your comment. So let me first try to clarify what I do as an educational advocate. My role is to make sure that students receive Due Process and support services in schools as defined by Local, State and Federal laws. Therefore, to say, I am not tough enough, I would disagree, I am very hard on a system that allows behavior to go unchecked for long periods of time, when there are interventions that could have dealt with the problem at an early age. To not provide the necessary supports to students and teachers when behaviors are first notice and wait years before and than try to send a child of to a detention center or suspend him or her without following the law, and providing proper intervention, does not help the child or the education system. What usually happen is that students and parents see a system that uses regulations when it wishes, not for the child, but as a cover-up to blame the victims of a broken system. As to why parents seek choices in education, the major focuses are on academic achievement, quality and stable teachers, as opposed to turnovers with substitutes without lesson plans, who allow the students to do what they wish, the quality of the facilities and the attitudes of the staff toward the students and parents. I disagree that charter schools do not have students with behavioral problems, they do, but what some tend to do is deal with the behaviors as outline by their intervention plans and due process procedures. Again, the earlier one intervenes the better the results. There are traditional public schools that have great intervention plans and do implement them, so it not so much a charter versus traditional on behavior. It is more of when a school determine to intervene and the necessary follow-up with teachers, students and parents to make sure the behaviors are being modified. On the subject of engaged parents, I have seen parents whose students are having difficulties with behavior, beg the schools and other agencies to help, but to no avail, so when they find a school or place that will help, they do what they can to get help for their child. No parent wants a child that is out of control or not learning, but they, as should the schools, want to know why and what is being done to modify the behavior or improve the academic achievement. Giorgio remember we do have laws and school staff should abide by it, as should students.

    • Charley Cowens

      August 12, 2016 — 3:01 pm

      It would be interesting if someone actually did a survey of why parents who are choosing charter schools for the first time do so. Someone must have done that. Right?

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