Sunday, March 25, 2012

Charter School Parents Speak Out Against Abuse

The paternalistic/racist attitudes behind charter schools are increasingly being revealed as many former charter school parents are recoiling in horror at the methods being used to modify the behavior of children of color. A word to our teacher readers --- charters are not all about an attack on you and the union but on the kids and parents and communities. Don't forget that and only talk about it from the teacher point of view --- it is not the message we want out there. Every teacher is a PR person for the response to ed deform --- with family, friends etc. Broaden your message and reframe the debate. When ed deformers say we are about adults and they are about children, throw it back in their faces.

Check out: A former KIPP teacher comments on her experience and "At KIPP, I would wake up sick, every single day"

So here is an interview I filmed for our movie with 2 former Achievement First Brooklyn parents with Leonie Haimson doing a wonderful job of interviewing (not my strength). And I give Leonie full credit for insisting that we set up these interviews and insisting we MUST include some of this in our film. In fact it was the last interviews we did before finalizing and I think they really cinch our message. But we could only squeeze in a few sound bites. You really have to watch the entire hour and a half. People in Providence used this footage to battle attempts by Achievement First to take over parts of the system.

Here, out pals in Seattle are using the footage to fight off the charter school movement. Watch them directly on vimeo for better playback:

Achievement First Charter School Parents Speak Out : A must watch

I have read and heard stories about charter schools that are geared toward minority students, as most are, but this is the first time that I have watched in-depth interviews of parents who had their children in these charter school franchises.
“Behavior modification training” is a term that one parent described her son’s first experience in this charter school.
May Taliaferrow, Former parent at Achievement First, Brooklyn, NY starts out as an avid charter school supporter but finds parents are shut out and children are subjected to severe discipline and ends up telling her son how sorry she was for putting him the school.

Achievement First Charter School Parents Speak Out: Why they removed their children Part 1 from Grassroots Education Movement on Vimeo.

“My child was made to sit on the floor until he
‘earned’ a seat.” A revealing interview on how all too many charter schools view children of color when it comes to discipline: total repression.
When Leslie-Anne Byfield “won” the lottery for a charter school in Brooklyn she felt her prayers for her child’s education had been answered. Until the horror stories began.

Achievement First Charter School Parents Speak Out: Why they removed their children Part 2 from Grassroots Education Movement on Vimeo.

Check South Bronx School for his stuff on hedge hog Gideon Stein (Gideon Stein Looks Down His Nose From His Balcony).

And let me point out to those out there who feel we are wasting our time and spitting against the wind, these are some of the fruits of our efforts. Yes. even a few people can nudge the needle.

By the way, here is a poster for an upcoming screening in LA:

After burn

You know one thing I can say about my teaching --- and I never claim to have been a fabulous teacher --- I absolutely made sure my kids got as much joy out of being in my class as I could manage. I know, I know. School should not be about joy but about pain. Sorry. Not in the grades I taught -- 4-6. It is not that I didn't spend a lot of time teaching but I also gave the kids lots of space to talk to each other and to me. I felt my class was one of the most socialized I saw. A friend who visited said I was the most relaxed teacher she has ever seen. Do you think that has an impact on kids who might already have some tension in their lives?

I did do test prep and all the stuff we did in the 70's. But my admins--- old timers, while they weren't always happy with my methods felt I was a good enough teacher to trust me. But a new data princess principal who took over in 1979 changed all that with enormous pressure to get scores. And yes the school rose but the learning didn't. That's where I became a foe of the future of ed deform -- in 1979. After that year I began to consider ways out of the classroom even though I taught in the self-contained room (in the old days that did not mean spec ed but the classroom tchr as opposed to a cluster or pull-out program) until 1985 when I left for 2 years to get an MA in computer science -- a decision I believe prompted by the lack of freedom to teach. When I got back in '87 the principal who did not want me to teach a test grade enticed me out with the promise of a computer cluster. I did not hesitate for long and did the next decade doing that which I enjoyed but it was nowhere close to being a real teacher in a class of kids for an entire day and entire year -- the most grueling and exhilarating experience.

Afterburn 2
I have written about how the son of ICE's Vera Pavone has a best selling novel as a first time author. Chris Pavone was on NPR yesterday. Listen here.

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