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

Saturday, August 30, 2014

I Wish Richard Kahlenberg Could Be Right, But . . .

In the August 30 NYTimes, Richard Kahlenberg and Halley Potter offer us a pipe dream of a high performing charter school world, one with diverse student populations and unionized faculty, where pedagogical innovation and shared governance are realities of everyday life.   Sadly, Kahlenberg and Potter offer a thinnest sprinkle of evidence that either integrated or unionized charter schools are anything more than wishful thinking, and they cite exactly 2 out of 6,000 that are both integrated and unionized. 

I like Richard Kahlenberg's work on the importance of social capital and the power of diversity in schools.  He carries the banner of James Coleman pretty well in most cases, but his and Potter's venture into fantasy is a disservice to the hard truth that Coleman never shied away from.

What Coleman knew is that economic integration is more important than funding or teacher quality in raising achievement, and he also knew that integration bred hope among the poor, and it was that "pupil attitude" of authonomy and hope--the belief in the ability to affect the present and future--that was more important than all the other school level factors combined in raising achievement.

Unfortunately, hope is in the shortest supply in the KIPPs and the thousands of charter schools that emulate the bare-knuckled system of "no excuses" penal pedagogy and authoritarian personnel management that reigns supreme in charterland.  If the paternalistic, condescending, segregated, and abusive reform charter schools disappeared today, there would be no more than a handful of charters left in the entire nation.  Hardly the solution that Gates, Fisher, or the Walton clan had in mind.  And with the AFT and NEA, themselves, entirely silent about the reality of segregated and child-abusing charters, who does Kahlenberg think is going to make his fanciful thinking anything more than sweet-sounding words?  Anyone, anyone?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:41 AM

    AFT and NEA work for the same benefactors as the charter schools.