"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, November 23, 2009

Alabama Concerned About Charter School Segregation: Massachusetts Goes Full Ahead

As the pressure to bow to the bribes heats up in the Obama/Gates/Broad Race Over the Cliff, states like Alabama without charter laws are feeling the pressure from the Oligarchs to open their doors to "innovation." So far charter schools have brought us innovations like more scripted teaching, uncertified or undercertified teachers with lower pay and no job security, the elimination of libraries, no food service or transportation or athletics, no like art or music, the undermining of public school funding, and a hearty embrace of apartheid schooling. Now that's what Sam Walton would call innovation!

As states like Massachusetts under a black Dem governor move forward with plans to make sure that more charter chain gangs are opened in poor neighborhoods to control and contain the minority populations, states like Alabama under a white Republican governor are actually taking the time to ask if charter schools could benefit anyone outside the corporatocracy, while bringing real harm to the civil rights gains of the past 5o years. Not only that, but there is at least one newspaper in Alabama, unlike in Boston, that includes news stories that express these reservations so that the citizens may make an informed decision about charters.

And so I salute the Montgomery Advertiser, which published "Push for Charter Schools Sparks Segregation Concerns:"
. . . .“I think superintendents would be willing to look at and explore what possibilities there are,” he said. “But what I’m afraid of is that if we rush this we will write a bad law that basically creates a dual system.”

The re-segregation of schools has been one of the most voiced concerns when it comes to charter schools. And a new report from The Civil Rights Project at the University of California Los Angeles has enumerated those concerns. The project has made an ongoing study of charter schools and the lack of civil rights policy concerning them. The report, “Equity Overlooked: Charter Schools and Civil Rights Policies,” [Equity Overlooked: Charter Schools and Civil Rights Policy] finds that charter schools can raise the danger of further escalating the re-segregation of public schools, a phenomenon that is already taking place in traditional public schools in the South.

The authors of the report, Erica Frankenberg and Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, write that, “Tying education stimulus dollars eligibility to charter numbers unfairly pressures states to ramp up efforts to authorize and open charter schools without considering the impact on racial and economic segregation.”

. . . .

Funding charter schools also is another hot-button issue. Former Booker T. Washington Magnet High School principal and current state Sen. Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, said he attended Riley’s education symposium, where U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke about Race to the Top and how charter schools would be a prerequisite to access those funds.

While Race to the Top no longer has that same emphasis, Ross said he knows it’s important to the Obama administration. But he’s not sure if the state is financially ready to have charter schools.

“When you think of charter schools, they can be another innovative way of delivering education,” he said. “But you have to keep in mind that there are many things draining our education dollars. We could open the door to fund these types of initiatives (charter schools), so that we can access these Race to the Top funds, but just like the stimulus money this money is going to go away.”

Ross, who is also on both the Senate’s education committees, said when the federal money runs out, it will be up to the state to pay for its charter schools and they could be in the same situation that many of the state’s initiatives are in now — strapped for cash.

In addition, Ross said charter schools typically handle their own finances and school districts would essentially be turning over the dollars they’re allocated and held responsible for to these schools with little, if any, say in how that money is spent. He said if a charter school closes down because of financial mismanagement or because it doesn’t have the resources to stay open, that’s state money that disappears.

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