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How Media Turn Support for Public Schools Into Opposition to Children of Color

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/12/08/how-media-turn-support-public-schools-opposition-children-color

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l was hoping that Ms. Hollar would have also remembered to mention Benedict Arne Duncan, who should have been hanged from a yardarm…

The mass media is either all to willing to be led around by nose and perfectly content to parrot industry talking points OR complicit in prioritizing private interests over public interests.

In other words, they either suck at their jobs or they’re corrupt sell outs. I vote all of the above.

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Charter schools find ways to cherry pick the better students through geographic placement, advertising, or not providing programs in ESL and the like. In addition, they achieve success by teaching to the test and emphasizing authoritarian structures of disciple such as requiring military conduct in the classroom. The result is that kids may pass the tests at somewhat higher levels but they end up never wanting to pick up a book to read after school days are over. On a level playing field, charter schools do no better than public and often worse by any number of measures.

Odd to find an attack on teachers unions here. I was a teacher and in the union for many years. Did you know that in my district it took a teacher strike to get class size limited in our district? To achieve a ratio of counselors to students that is at all reasonable? To hire enough special ed teachers so that classroom teachers were not overwhelmed with kids that need extra help? You seem to think unions are all about extravagant teacher salaries and benefits. They aren’t.

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The right wing has been playing this game of wedge politics on charters and government regulation for decades.

This from the article says it all - “It’s a classic charter (and voucher) argument that manages to paint the policy as having only the best interests of the poor at heart, even as it promotes inequality by offering access to a few lifeboats rather than repairing the ship”.

Charter schools, voucher programs, etc has always been about the commodification of education (and the people) for the profits and control by the elite. Education at all levels should be free and accessible to all. All education programs should/must be under the control by the communities and voters in which the children and PEOPLE where they live. To level the playing field for rural vs urban, rich vs poor, white vs people of color, all funding of public education should come from the federal government based on the population and programs, not from property taxes or the individual State’s coffers.

Education for all is a human RIGHT. Just like healthcare for all is a human RIGHT.

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Most elected Democrats won’t even fight for equitable funding for public schools. I lived in New York, which has one of the most segregated school systems and greatest disparities in district funding, all under a Democratic governor and now a Democratic-run legislature, in the face of a decade-old court order to fairly fund the schools.

Is it surprising that some Black and Brown parents are desperate for an alternative? If the problem is public schools themselves - if it isn’t funding - why aren’t parents in affluent neighborhoods clamoring for charter schools? In the end, this problem has just become a wedge used to dismantle public education and weaken unions.

Universal programs work - but public schools are not universal as long as some schools for some are drastically underfunded compared to others. The problem isn’t Sanders and Warren. It is the cynical inaction by neoliberals in the of the rest of the party.

I’ve taught middle school English in NYC since fall 2003.

My last school on 1st Ave and 11th was closed due to declining enrollment, and, in its last year, some parents switched their kids’ schools so our classes dropped from maybe 25 per class to 15-16.

This was a Title 1 middle school, mainly low income African American and Hispanic students, in an “ICT” class w/a gen ed (myself) and a special ed teacher in room always.

It was far and away the best year of teaching - in terms of connections w/kids and parents, our ability to teach the kids, give the attention to individual students, and enjoy ourselves - students and teachers - in the classroom.

I remember my co-teacher saying the obvious - and this was after we knew we were for the chopping block - that finally we were able to do our job.

I’ve met a small handful of amazing teachers who - by astonishing feats of labor, will, ruthless self-organization and time, and individual personal skills - could successfully teach the larger classes. Many perfectionists, many w/o family yet. But they were the exception that proves the rule. Some have extraordinary physical health, but I’ve seen one fellow, truly great teacher burned out and sickened by the labor.

There are many very good and good teachers in the system - and I’d include myself in that broad category - who struggle frustratedly to teach students whose education is weakened by typical class size.

Among low income populations - ie, the majority of public school students - smaller class sizes, in my view, will make the single greatest difference to educational success - and will constitute authentic educational equity. But that will require “allocating more money.”

"the right likes to cast teachers’ unions as a ‘special interest’ scapegoat for the failures of the country’s underfunded education system"

“Underfunded” is the key idea, as I wrote in my above post. Since the Reagan 1980’s, the right has used the slogan ‘throwing money at problems won’t solve them’ to deride social spending.

But in education, I’ve argued, you can’t fix the main problem of public school education - class size that limits effective education of its many low income people of color - w/o money.

“The skill set required to be successful is daunting…Most beginners don’t know how to begin to do these things but they can learn.”

That is not what I’m arguing:

I am arguing the ceiling for most talented and trained teachers - not necessarily the supermen/women, but highly talented - is class size.

I’m arguing that - for most good and very good public school teachers - class size will be the ultimate determinant of their “success.”

Lowering teacher/student ratios so that students - especially the low income students of color that make up the majority of public school students - can learn better and teachers can teach better, will cost money.

As the author suggests, culling a minority of low-income students that have unusual family support systems or arbitrary genetics on their side is a substitute for society investing in the majority of students handicapped by their economic starting place.

“Successful” charter schools are not necessarily good for the “culled” students either. Is ongoing test prep homework to get better test scores a good educational ideal? Do you really want kids pissing their pants for fear of missing class time? Is that the charter school option you’ll face a minority of low income students and parents with while while withdrawing adequate resources from the low income public school majority?

[https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/07/nyregion/at-success-academy-charter-schools-polarizing-methods-and-superior-results.html]

“I detect that you are slipping into the scapegoating that defl-”

you “detect” - sniffed out a rat in the woodpile, have you?

“are slipping” - but there’s hope for me, this was only a warning - I can still renounce my errors before the tribunal

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