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Education, education reform, school choice

Bad Education

Charter schools are often seen as the resolve to the harrowing public education system that American children are often forced into. This battered system that is outdated and is underfunded is in need of immense restructuring that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.  That’s why charters are often placed alongside 1st and 2nd generation public schools to in essence create a side boulevard for students who want to be educated outside of the normal paradigms of public education. However, charter schools have been failing to keep good on their promise of providing equitable education to every student, regardless of zip code (or sub zip code), race, ethnicity, or learning impairment.  Students who would most benefit from charters are being failed or turned away and the whole objective of charters is being misconstrued by people who have no interest in education. While charters are supposed to be the driving force behind innovative education within their enrollment area they are actually loosing that drive for innovation and instead staying within the paradigm, thus misleading people who think their child has a chance. However, while its unfair to state that all charter schools are failures, because there are some charter schools that provide equitable education to every child regardless of impairment or limitation(The Intergenerational School, Harlem Children’s Zone are just some of the examples) it is fair to say that there are not enough charters that do this for their students.  It seems that the leaders of the charter schools are more concerned with impressing big money donors, becoming entangled in politics and with not having to meet or exceed state expectations of what equitable education is.  Leaders are most concerned with making the school look good to parents who have bright and “exceptional” children and therefore they tend to forget that charters are a part of the public education system and therefore have the same obligations as their district counterparts to educate every child. If anything, charter schools have more of an obligation than traditional public education to provide students who have learning disability or who fall into the category of “high risk” with an equitable education because they should be in a position to be the schools of promise that many of the counterpart districts should turn to for assistance. Furthermore, it’s tragic that charter schools are stuck on educating the brightest or “low risk” students that will by default yield positive results because these students often come from schools that just started to fail and thus maybe academically superior compared to “high risk” students therefore making it impossible for the school to actually know if it’s actually performing well or just getting credit for another schools work. It also cheats students who by appearance fall into the “low risk” spectrum but are actually (minor to moderately) academically limited because it places them into a environment which their academic shortfalls may go undetected or create grounds for justifying that the child get a Section 504 or IEP plan. Moreover, if a child receives a 504 or a IEP due to minor to moderate academic inabilities than the child maybe tracked along with moderately-severe to severe students thus causing the child to miss out on academic opportunities due to social stigmas. However, no matter how you look at it, charters who cherry pick students may actually be creating an environment in which violations of IDEA, Least Restrictive Environment, and Section 504 of the IDA maybe cultivated thus limiting the chances of a child who has gone undetected, detected, misidentified, or ignored. Furthermore, the practice could actually violate the rights of students without limitations or impairments because if the school isn’t able to identify whether its academic system is right for its students until sometime later than children are being failed.  Nevertheless, if charters are creating this issue and then forcing the children out as “defective” than they could actually damage the public school landscape of America, do disservice to the name of charters who embrace students regardless of such inabilities or impairments, and derail the futures of students who were actually promising at once upon a time.  These children will just end up at another charter where time and resources that could have been better allocated or back to the same school districts where they came from that now not only have to get the child caught up, but also will risk being declared as a poor performing school if the charter or the district is getting them back in crowds.

This system of systemic failure is exactly why charters nor traditional public schools should become entangled in politics,  become over obsessed with compliance with No Child Left Behind, or lose sight of their obligations to provide children with equitable education. Children should never be getting cheated by public education because the leaders they trust are playing fast in loose with laws like IDEA and the Individuals with Disabilities Act. Education, regardless if it’s received through traditional public schools, magnet schools, or charter schools is too serious to be neglected and misled by officials who don’t have the best interest of the children in mind. It makes no sense, at all, and there is no explanation that can ever be given to justify practices that not only violate their civil rights but also causes students to be failed because of teachers or academic leaders that wanted to see promising results at the end of the year. If practices such as cherry picking,  force out,  biased redistricting, or sideling/tracking  students who have impairments or disabilities continue than America will never be able to produce engineers, teachers, lawyers, doctors and will soon become unable to supply blue collar workers because they will be too academically limited.

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