I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"Choice" Ain't Choice

See, when a charter school fails, it shows the system is working!

You know, except for the kids...
Part of the genius of the charter model is it does allow for a certain innovative churn, where you close low performers and thereby create space for new innovators to come in and try new models,” said Brian Jones, the outgoing chairman of the charter board. Board members elected John “Skip” McKoy, who has been the board’s vice chairman, to succeed Jones.
Among the schools to be closed is Septima Clark in Anacostia, the city’s only all-boys public school, which enrolls more than 200 elementary students. Septima’s board of directors proposed that the school be acquired by Achievement Prep, a nearby well-regarded co-ed middle school. On Thursday, the citywide charter board approved that plan.
Most of Septima’s students will be guaranteed a seat at Achievement Prep, which is expanding into the elementary grades. In return, Achievement Prep will assume Septima’s assets, which amount to more than a million dollars.
The acquisition is the first of its kind in the District and could be a model for future takeovers as charter officials seek to ease transitions for students in schools slated to close. But it has sparked turmoil at Septima, with founder Jenny DuFresne resigning as head of school to protest what she said was a lack of transparency on the part of the board of directors.
Parents also have mounted fierce resistance, saying Septima’s board of directors was acting unfairly, unnecessarily and behind closed doors when it decided to shutter the school.
We as parents decided that Septima Clark was the best for our boys,” said Ayana Osborne, a mother of two Septima students, who argued that the school had made great strides even with its willingness to accept boys with difficult behavior and other challenging needs. [emphasis mine]
Whoa, whoa, whoa, lady! Listen, I don't know who the hell you think you are, but let's get something straight: you are allowed to make a "choice" as to whether send your boys to a charter school, but you don't get to make a "choice" as to whether or not you are happy with that school!

See, when you made your "choice," you pretty much gave up all of your rights as a parent to have a say in the management of your sons' charter school. Charter schools are not public schools in matters of governance nor transparency - that's what makes them so innovative and fresh and awesome, you see?

So you may have made a "choice" when you pulled your kids out of a public school that was run by a local school board responsive to your political will. But that "choice" did not include you having any say in what happens to your children's school when the rich and powerful decide to make an example of it. You have no choice in whether a charter stays open - so you don't really have a "choice," do you?
Septima’s students made larger test score gains last year than any other charter in the city, but only about a third of its students were proficient in math and reading. Such results endangered its long-term prospects and made it difficult to secure a bank loan for a permanent facility, according to Septima’s board of directors.
Jay Costan, Septima’s board chairman, said that he and his colleagues had no choice but to close the school but that he hopes the shift to Achievement Prep will give most of Septima’s boys a pathway to a good school without having to enter a lottery. “We made a commitment to give these boys the best education possible, and when we took a hard look at it, we realized that we weren’t doing that,” Costan said.
Howard Road Academy, another school east of the Anacostia River that was in danger of being closed for poor performance, will instead shrink, shuttering two of its three campuses and giving up grades one through eight to focus solely on early childhood education.
Again: it really doesn't matter if the parents at Howard Road like their school or not: all that matters is whether the people in power are happy with the school. It's really their "choice," you see?

That's the "genius of the charter model": "choice" isn't really choice at all. Right, George?

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