POSTED: February 26th, 2012
Next week, I am going to be attending the California Charter School Association‘s (CCSA) annual conference. I like to go because I do learn a little about the psyche of charter school leaders and to feel the passion that many of these people have for children. Many of these people are truly committed, caring, selfless and want to do the right things for their students. It’s really a wonderful event where you can really see and feel what originally gave the charter school movement such momentum.
I know that some of you are aghast that I would be happy about going to a conference like this, but I have to tell you that I’m an educator – first and foremost and believe that parents should have choices and that competition does make us all better.
I see positives and negatives in both approaches. While I despise the fact that edu-business and for-profits seem to be shanghaiing the charter movement, I do see that those who only wish to provide quality choices as an inspiration. They are, for the most part, young, eager and figuring it out. I only hope they are able to regain their footing and fight back against what those who are paying CCSA’s bills would like to see happen – for-profit privatization of the public school system.
It’s true the public school system does have its issues. But, to be honest, we only need to look in the mirror to find our own worst enemy. Tenure is given not earned. (This is not the fault of the teachers union. An administrator somewhere gave the thumbs up to give these people tenure.) State laws make it impossible to contain certain costs due to prevailing wage regulations, and the simple fact that we have forgotten that teachers not programs are the most important resources we have, caused many who once honored us, look at us with increased suspicion.
The saddest part is that the two sides can’t see the validity of each other. Charter school operators dislike regular public school and regular public schools don’t care for charters. However, what makes this worse is that this mutual dislike is more about money than educational quality. In today’s economy, money has become the key motivator for this dislike because regular public schools are getting less of it and the for-profit people…. well, they just want more profit.
But I’m excited. I’ll be there this week. I’ll feel the inspiration of those who really want to do good and what’s right. I pray that they see just how profoundly their passion is being used so that others, who really don’t care about students, can garner greater profits. I’ll feel inspired and tear-up at some of the stories of courage and commitment I will hear and then get teary-eyed again as I listen to Dr. Howard Fuller speak eloquently in favor of charter schools and parent choice.
Once again I will marvel at how regular public school districts keep moving closer to being more like charters and how many charters are beginning to take many of the characteristics of a regular school district. It’s really too bad that there has to be two camps – Charters and Public – But, it needs to end. We have to co-exist or it’s our students who will pay the price.
I would also like to invite you to check out the EdHive and see how a group of people who think like I do, are trying to reinvent and reshape how charter and regular public schools can work together for the good of students.
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