Published Dec. 16, 2016
I posted a letter from an anonymous Rockaway parent who disagreed with my stand on charter schools, vouchers, and Trump’s proposed education secretary, and school privatizer, Betsy DeVos. He feels that school choice is the answer to the problems our public school system faces. I will use the next batch of columns to try to elucidate why I oppose charter schools, vouchers, and any tax
credit for people sending their children to private and religious schools and why even a flawed public schools system is worth fighting for, while trying to fix the flaws. Balkanizing the schools and putting them under thousands of different management organizations, many of them out for a profit, will only
end up degrading all schools. (See Detroit where Betsy DeVos pushed through a system of totally unregulated schools that has lead to chaos.)
question. “Are you satisfied with the current state of public education (outside of the charter system) in NYC? If not, how would you improve the system?” Oy! This may take 10 years of columns. Let me say right up front. From almost the day I began teaching in Sept. 1967, it was clear the public school
system needed reform. By my 3rd year I also realized that the
teacher union, the UFT, often a partner with the then Board of Education in managing the schools, also needed reform and that if we wanted change we would have to address both. By 1970 I had become an educational activist which continues to this day. What to change the system to and how to do that has been up for discussion seemingly forever.
Now that I know there is at least one person who reads this column, I will address a bunch of the issues raised in future columns. But this time I want to explore the concept of public institutions.
Pretty much every part of the nation and every neighborhood in most urban areas have had an assumption over the past 150 years or more that there will be certain guaranteed public institutions. A police and fire station (though sometimes these are volunteers). A post office. Access to a hospital. Some sanitation services. Certainly, this has been true in New York City. These
institutions were built and managed by entities that were,
theoretically at least, under the control of a public process – people elected by us who were subject to some level of accountability. Both political parties pretty much signed up to support this concept.
Enroll Fewer Homeless Pupils Than City Schools (http://tinyurl.com/z5uv8ya)
the 29 geographic school districts in the city that have charters, every charter had a lower percentage of students in temporary housing last year than the average among the traditional public schools in the same district.”
to Her Will on Charter Schools (http://tinyurl.com/zpc2vlq):
Tonya Allen, the president of the Skillman Foundation…. Most charters have failed to improve on the dismal performance of the traditional public schools. High-performing national charter networks have stayed away because of the instability of the market. that will mean shutting down mostly traditional public schools, which in Detroit serve the neediest students, and further desert students in neighborhoods where charters have largely declined to go. “My complaint around this is not that you disagree,” said Ms. Allen, “but that you never could come up with another solution to deal with the practical issues of poor public policy that is not only eroding a traditional school system, but eroding all schools.”