Sunday, September 20, 2009

Charter School Horror


With a promise of more freedom, and the chance to get out from under the thumbs of a reactionary school board, the teachers of Tyler High have voted to become a charter school. Instructors and parents alike are thrilled with the prospect of independence– and yet...

The formerly laid-back principal has become unusually strict. With her toadying secretary, she seems to be running the show.

Thus reads the blurb for Bentley Little's novel, The Academy. Stephen King calls Little "The horror poet laureate."

One reviewer on Amazon says:
...this latest offering by the author is set in a high school that has undergone a transformation. It has gone from being a district school to being an independent charter school, and therein lies the rub. Newly independent, the principal takes independency to new heights. Unfettered and unrestrained, everyday concepts of discipline, learning, and loyalty take on new meaning. The teachers, as well as the students, slowly succumb, one by one, to this novel and horrific approach to education. As they do, the school becomes a very scary place indeed, with survival just a hope in one's heart.

That a major horror writer focuses on a charter school takeover of a public school is a sign of something in the air. The teacher who lent me the book suggested I read only the first 2 chapters where the principal manipulates the staff through a combination of fear and cajoling into voting for the charter. The two teacher resisters are immediately ostracized. These chapters ring so true to how things really happen, the bodies that pile up later in the book might just make you want to rethink that charter school lurking in your building.

Coming soon: Ed Notes' version of The Academy (PAVE students do a lot of chanting - like, THIS IS OUR SCHOOL. See video of the PS 15/PAVE meeting on Sept. 17. The first section will be up later.

1 comment:

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