Bronx Principal Jamaal Bowman Debunks Common Charter School Myths

This article was originally posted as a FB reply, then as a personal note, then as a blog on With a Brooklyn Accent,

http://withabrooklynaccent.blogspot.com/2015/02/bronx-principal-jamaal-bowman-debunks.html

then in LA Progressive http://www.laprogressive.com/charter-school-myths/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+laprogressive+%28The+LA+Progressive%29&utm_content=FaceBook

AND NOW FINALLY- the place it all started: The War Report FB group post:

Jamaal Bowman was responding to this question posted in the War Report on Public Education Group after the internet radio show on the School to Prison Pipeline.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheWarReportOnPubEd/
Discussion Topic:

What do you think?

Charter schools are the best thing that has happened to public schools because they have forced public schools to “wake up” and for public school teachers to begin teaching better, due to the competition brought by Charters, than they have in previous years.

Please discuss – this was a topic raised in a group message after the School to Prison Pipeline show:

Podcast link for the Show from Sunday:
http://bbsradio.com/content/war-report-public-education-february-22-2015

By Jamaal Bowman

Good evening. Please allow me to indulge for a moment. First, good schools are good schools. I don’t care what we call them. The most important thing in a child’s life after a parent is a good teacher, coach, or mentor. When I say good schools, I don’t mean schools that simply have good test scores. I’m speaking of schools that get good scores, as well as develop the character and passions of their students toward self actualization.
Allow me to debunk a few charter school myths. I don’t know if this applies to all charter schools but definitely the ones I have some experience with. First let me say that studies show if a parent is savvy and passionate about education, regardless of race, class, or educational background, their child is more likely to graduate high school and college. Charters (at least the ones I have experience with), make sure that parents prove how serious they are before even giving their child a chance of getting in. For example, one charter that I know, mandates (not using this word lightly), that parents attend 5-6 meetings before even entertaining the possibility of the child making it to the lottery. These are obviously parents that value education in the home. If parents miss one meeting, no lottery. On the other hand, district schools have to take everyone. The savvy parent AND the struggling parent without meeting mandates. A parent can go through an entire school year without attending a meeting and the child is guaranteed a spot in a district school.
Further, in case you didn’t know, parents also sign contracts in many charters to ensure homework is done, meetings are attended, and certain behavioral execrations are met. If the parent or child breaks the contract, the child can be kicked out of school. I know. I’ve seen it done while “interning” at a charter school.
Lastly, charters can fire teachers and have extremely high turnover rates. From my conversations and observations of charter schools, I’ve heard many of the policies and procedures be called “inhumane.” This could be why so many teachers can’t last anymore than two or three years in many charters. Ironically, these charters serve as a perfect pipeline for TFA –mocking two year commitment.
Based on what I know, as they are currently constituted, charters, TFA, and yearly standardized testing are wrong for our high need communities. We should stop funding them all unless they agree to make major adjustments to how they do business. Why? Because that money can be spent on giving all students a quality holistic education. Charters, TFA, and yearly testing infuse anxiety, disunity, and even worst, standardization into the psyche of society. They are trying to recreate a 21st century idea of “empire.” Keep the masses, and “lower class” under control while the elite continue to rule. A standardized mindset will always be controlled. Whereas in schools like Riverdale Country School, there are not state standardized assessment, no TFA and no need for a charter, and they are taught to lead and change the world.
Consider KIPP’S first graduating class. Ranked fifth in NYC in mathematics in the 8th grade, but only 21% graduated college. Why? Because KIPP test prepped the kids to death and the kids never built their character or learned to manage their own freedom. KIPP and many charters standardize and try to control everything from how kids walk through the halls to how they ask to go to the bathroom. But teaching and learning is organic; it is human. When are we gonna ask ourselves why must poor communities of color be treated like this, whereas middle class and upper class parents would NEVER go for this treatment!
WE HAVE TO hold politicians and private citizens who invest in education accountable to the true needs of our at-risk communities. We must give our communities a true voice. If charters, TFA, and the state really cared about our children being their very best, show us, by investing in daycare, Montessori, music, sports, counselors and everything in between. Charters should take all children and TFA should change everything! If not, the powers that be will continue to fatten up the district school kids to be slaughtered and fed to their private school bosses as adults.
For the rest we have jail cells waiting for them. ‪#‎wemustunite‬

BREAKING! Newark Student Union Call to Action!

Join Tanaisa Brown and the Newark Student Union as they Occupy the Office of Cami Anderson. These students are brave and really know how to take on the elusive Cami.

CALL TO ACTION: ALL NEWARK STUDENTS, TEACHERS, PARENTS, AND FELLOW COMMUNITY MEMBERS THAT STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH US AGAINST THE PRIVATIZATION OF OUR SCHOOL SYSTEM… COME OUT TOMORROW MORNING TO 2 CEDAR STREET. WE ASK THAT THE COMMUNITY COMES OUT AND WELCOMES CAMI ANDERSON WITH OPEN ARMS!

THERE WILL BE A PRESS CONFERENCE AS WELL (TIME NOT SPECIFIED YET). LETS SHOW THE REST OF THE WORLD THAT NEWARK IS UNITED AND STANDING STRONGER THAN EVER!

STUDENTS: GET YOUR FRIENDS!
PARENTS: STAND WITH YOUR CHILDREN!
TEACHERS: THIS IS YOUR FIGHT TOO! 

Watch Live Stream Here:

Read and watch news coverage here:

http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2015/02/live_newark_student_activists_occupy_district_offi.html#incart_story_package

Newark Student Union FB here:

https://www.facebook.com/NewarkStudentsUnion?fref=nf

GoFundMe here:

http://www.gofundme.com/newarkstudentsunion

Newark Student Union

Twitter : @NewarkStudents

Email: The Newark Student Union: newarkstudentsunion@gmail.com

“Just Call Me Old School”

By Leslie Oxedine Kelley
I have worked in Title I schools my entire career. I too have kept a clothes closet and a drawer full of personal hygiene products and another of school supplies. I had two marvelous principals before this age of ladder climbing, politically correct sheep. One man took money from his own pocket to send the PE teacher shoe shopping for a family of six kids (on school time no less). The other gentleman gave a mother his own money to take her kids to the doctor. These same men never said more to me than, “you are doing a great job”, “There’s been a little problem and you need to fix it.” and, “I hired you as a professional. Handle it”. Those are quotes I recall more than 20 years later. Those were my first two public school jobs. I was so spoiled by their support that after them I struggled with the new breed of administrator. How I missed them, as did everyone else.

Dr. Jay Arnold passed away after many of us had moved on. His funeral was like a family reunion. We got so loud greeting and loving one another after years apart, then crying for our loss, that the funeral home attendants asked us to go outside. About 40 people went out. Dr Arnold (and Harry Fuller before him) fostered that love by setting the tone in our buildings. Both men treated the faculty and students with genuine concern for our well being. They cared about all of us…more than their own career, political correctness or any flippin data. I loved my job then and I would have gone to great lenghths to do anything those men asked of me.

I know there are MANY teachers out there just like this and I hope administrators as well. It has just been my personal experience to have worked for principals who are bound up in the political mess public education has become. I would LOVE to meet the one who says, “to hell with the games. This is what our kids need…regardless of what outsiders think we need.” then hunkers down, unites the community (at least within the schoolhouse), and loves kids again. I understand love doesn’t cure everything, but it sure goes further than this “OMG public education Is failing and it’s all YOUR fault” attitude prevalent today. Just call me old school.

Jia Lee Calls for “Teachers of Conscience” to Take a Stand

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“Remember that fear is natural, but there is greater fear in knowing what will happen if we don’t take a stand.”  

– Jia Lee 

Special Education teacher Jia Lee took some time out of her busy schedule last Saturday to talk to War Report about her experience testifying in front of the Senate Education Committee in DC on January 21, 2015. During her testimony, Lee called for her fellow teachers to be “teachers of conscience” and join her in refusing to administer detrimental high stakes tests to students. Lee’s bravery and dedication to her students is inspiring.

“As people start to awaken and see that we can no longer keep our heads down, I believe that people will force democratic decision making through a variety of means: opting out/refusal, legislatively and changing how we engage around issues of public education. Even if the federal government reauthorizes ESEA with the same or similar testing mandates, teachers, parents, students and concerned community members are learning that this can’t work. While we opt out and refuse compliance to the standardization of our communities, we will start to see people engaged in highlighting our vision for public education.”

What do you think of the stand taken by Jia Lee and other teachers of conscience?

Please read the full interview, share, and comment. Originally published on Living in Dialogue. 

http://www.livingindialogue.com/jia-lees-national-call-action-let-teachers-teachers-conscience/

Metro Nashville 911 Call to Action!

“Last night, the communications subcommittee of the MNPS school board discussed a policy that would give school board representatives the ability to use the district’s communication infrastructure (e.g., robocalls, etc.) to communicate directly and effectively with constituents. Three school board members–Elissa Kim, Tyese Hunter, & Sharon Gentry–inexplicably voiced opposition to this policy. (See below for a copy of the policy.) The only reasons I can see for them opposing this is they, 1) don’t believe elected officials should communicate with their constituents, and/or 2) don’t like the board member proposing the policy, so they are objecting for personal reasons. Whatever their reason/s for objecting, I find an elected official’s desire to limit communication with constituents very disturbing. I urge you to email these school board members and tell them you want your school board member to have access to every possible communication method so he/she can effectively communicate with her/his constituents. Their email addresses are as follows: tyese.hunter@mnps.org, elissa.kim@mnps.org, sharon.gentry@mnps.org. Their twitter handles are @hunter4schools and @kimfornashville. Please share this post on your page too. Thank you! (This policy will likely come up for a vote at the next board meeting.)”

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