The slowly decaying education system of the United State and the news off fixation on the charter school for being the main solution is evident. This can be seen in interesting documentaries like “The Lottery” and “Waiting for Superman”.
Why Are Charter Schools Bad : A Case Study in New Orleans
Some of the biggest names of mainstream education that include philanthropic organizations are backed up with rich corporations.
They have been able to make an image that can portray charter school to be marketed as the solution for the current broken education system followed at public schools.
Across the country, all of the privately run but publicly funded institutes can be seen, specifically in the areas of New Orleans, Washington D.C. and Oakland.
What is the issue?
One of the debates observed is that the new schools are lacking union for protecting the teachers.
They have offered administrative autonomy over the syllabus, budget and staff hiring as well as firing them. They are mainly funded by huge philanthropic organizations with a great back up by corporations.
In Oakland because of some local disputes related to the decision taken by the Oakland Unified School Board is seen.
As they have decided to close 30 schools that have low test scores and number of students. This shall be done in the coming five years and there will be a rise in the charter schools.
A lot of members from the community are opposing this and feel that there is some relation between the decision taken by the board and the charter school increase. Although Board says that this is just for saving money.
Taking a Closer Look at Facts on Charter Schools
For having a better insight at the issue with a charter school, we must understand its major impact on Oakland. And gain knowledge on the beginning of the privatization movement with the way the highest numbers of charter schools are seen in New Orleans:
Another critique for a charter school is that as they are related to the corporation and therefore free market, they will be adhering to a lot of negative features of a profit-focused market. Kenneth Saltman has listed some of the characteristics like efficiency, competition, monopoly, competition, failure and turns around.
- The aspects can be seen in the charter school of New Orleans. The competition is seen for all of the levels and a structure that is mainly result oriented.
- The charter schools also show some of the capitalist features with the admission procedure, staff recruitment, closing of school, racial tensions and the overemphasis on the test scores. The situation that we had discussed earlier started in the year 2005 with a hurricane called Katrina. The storm was being used for replacing the public school system with charter schools in New Orleans. Then state legislation had been passed for deeming all of the failing schools and were asked for being taken over by Recovery School District (RSD). They were determining the school as a failure with the SPS (School performance score)
- Paul Pastorekwas appointed as the state education superintendent after the hurricane and this opportunity was used for turning 107 schools to charter from a total of 128.
- In New Orleans, before the storm had hit the city, just 2 % of children were attending Charter school. Compare it with the 78 % that is seen today.
- Several education reformers that didn’t belong to New Orleans had also joined the so-called education experiment.
- The leaders of the charter revolution claimed that this wasn’t a pre-made scheme. But the previous public school system had been de-prioritized the time when the Federal Government had chosen to give $ 20 million to the charter schools over public ones.
- There are critics of the charter that see this as propaganda for privatizing the complete education system. They also take this as an offense for all of the people that were deceased or displaced because of Katrina. There is also a sense that mainly the black community residing in New Orleans can be replaced and hamper the development of the school privatization that’s taking place. In the year 2010, Superintendent Vallas had told the parents that if they are against charter schools they might as well “Vote with their feet”. This statement is disturbing and problematic.
- The black community in the city specifically the middle class that constituted teachers had been affected adversely because of the charter propagation. About 7500 staff and teachers had been taken off in the year 2006 after Katrina. A total of 75% of these were black and 100,000 residents of New Orleans had to come back to the city.
- This termination was done after the year lasting failure of the OPSB for reopening the schools with contract expiration. The president of the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Linda Johnson had responded to this as the only way for eliminating the bargaining agreement and leveraging the opportunity for beginning new.
- Although the present public education does have some issues it allows the involvement of communities and federal control at the local levels. This occurs with voting and union protections for the safety of teachers.
With the analysis of the Charter schools in New Orleans, it is clear that they are not the solution for the pre-existing issues with public education. The competitive environment is leading to the friction within the once very close Black community of the city. The students are competing for a place in school and the individualism of parents has been encouraged over solidarity in the community and the collective efforts for progressing.
There is a need for small schools that have teachers that have the freedom for teaching beyond the specific tests, the schools have resources for the services and the main aim is empowering the students in the best way possible. Oakland consists of a higher number of charter schools when compared to the other California districts. For the benefit of the young generation and society’s future, one needs to question if the Charter is what the people want and need?
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