Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Separate But Better?

Let's just keep black kids down.  That seems to be the message some activists are sending:
Critics complain that charter schools “pay more attention to student achievement than to racial diversity,” reports Heidi Hall for USA Today.

Urban charters often are located in high-poverty, high-minority neighborhoods with low-performing district schools. They attract few or no white or middle-class students. Black parents are the most likely to choose charters, which produce learning gains for disadvantaged students compared to district alternatives, CREDO studies report.
They say this like it’s a bad thing.

As for the whole “separate but better” complaint, it’s complete and total crap.  Plessey, and later Brown, dealt with officially-sanctioned discrimination.  We can’t legislate where people live, and if there are more blacks (or any other race) in a particular area, and hence in the schools, it’s not up to the government to say that that’s a bad thing.

I wonder if part of these complaints come from people who actually don't want some students to do better than others, or to have better opportunities than others--or to show how bad the neighborhood schools, or the community from which their students are drawn, really are.


maxutils said...

I think the real issue is that any parent who takes the time to choose a school for their child is likely to be a parent whose child will be more likely to succeed. That's why I favor a full voucher system ... not just a token amount, but a voucher for the full amount spent per student, which is guaranteed to be accepted as payment in full for any public school (priority given to those in the school's attendance district) or applicable to any private school. Attendance is mandatory, still, but it will force parental buy in. Home schoolers would be out of luck, but that would be their choice, as it is now.

neko said...

"We can’t legislate where people live..."

Once you open your mind to the power of government, there is truly nothing it can't regulate.

(Not well, of course. Government rarely regulates anything well, but that has never stopped it from trying... and then continuing to try long after it has become obvious that it is only making whatever it is worse.)

allen (in Michigan) said...

The complaints come from people who feel cheated because the Civil Rights era came to an end before they could partake and demonstrate their courage and nobility. Parents have rather more urgent worries then that self-indulgent lefties don't have the opportunities they are certain they deserve to strike heroic poses in pursuit of social justice and give stirring, and carefully recorded, speeches.

Those parents have their kids to worry about and if their child is in a school that doesn't have the level of violence found in many urban public schools, and the kids are being taught by teachers whose skills are valued and thus value their own skills, those parents tend to be pretty pleased. Not much room in that scenario for cartoon social justice super heroes but when you're sufficiently self-indulgent you'll always find wrongs that desperately need righting and if you're that self-indulgent you're not likely to listen to opinions which deny you that blissful opportunity.

Fortunately, as Bill de Balsio's finding out at the cost of his political back side screwing with parents who understand they're in charge of their child's fate is a decidedly bad idea. Homeschooling parents taught that lesson to the education establishment a decade or so ago which is why it's rare to hear of an education official disturbing them.

Cognizance of the danger of charter schools to the pleasant, established order of things is rather a newer phenomenon so the defenders of the status quo are still operating under the assumption that they can curb this new danger. They can't do anything other then try but I believe, as supported by the lesson of homeschooling parents, they'll lose.

The really fun question is, what's the logical end-point of what's currently in progress in the public education arena?

maxutils said...

allen, well first, I know you didn't see my first post before you posted, but I think it contains your answer ... hopefully. The problem with charter schools is that they don't have to follow the rules, one, and are limited, two. I want a system which allows every parent to be able to choose a good school, and which prevents the schools from turning away the 'problem' students...Charter schools are just public school elitism, and while they may produce really good results, it's because they are able to be selective; in addition, by skimming off the cream, the other schools become even worse.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Nope max, didn't see your first post but it doesn't address the issue in Darren's original post.

The issue is all the phony hysterics over what's mendaciously referred to as "segregation". As near as I can tell you didn't touch on that.

But with regard to charters, yeah, they pretty much do have to follow the same rules as do district schools.

Not district rules of course but applicable state and federal law. Charter schools also aren't selective but that's also part of all states and federal law although that doesn't prevent critics of charter schools from making the claim. Inevitably in the absence of any proof.

The distinction of selectivity goes to district schools which are explicitly, unapologetically, even proudly selective.

That would be magnet schools which are and have been selective for decades.

Also, your preference for vouchers ignores the reality of the politics of public education.

The defenders of the status quo naturally saw vouchers as a danger to their cozy monopoly and threw their full weight against any voucher proposals. But when charters showed those same defenders were presented with a quandary - fight charters as vigorously as they had vouchers and risk looking utterly intransigent to any changes to the public education system but those that obviously benefiting the defenders of the status quo or deal a bit on this new policy idea.

The defenders chose to deal since intransigence would be a lightning rod for the opposition the obvious calculation being that charters would be, ultimately, under the thumb of the legislature and the legislature was very much under the thumb of the public education establishment. When public interest in education ebbed charters would be much easier to undo then vouchers.

But public interest in education didn't ebb and charters were very popular and much more worrying then just the continued public interest in charters was the specific demographic who simply adored charters - blacks. Charters created a constituency among a demographic of crucial importance to Democrats, a constituency that was directly at odds with a long-standing ally of Democrats - the public education establishment.

That made moving against charters much more difficult then it would otherwise have been and far from snuffing out charters there was relentless pressure to expand their scope. That pro-charter constituency turned out to be, unsurprisingly, not anywhere near as easy to frighten at the prospect of vouchers as did the public in general which brings us to current affairs.

Oh, and charters don't "skim the cream" unless you define "the cream" as pretty much all the kids in a school district.

As I've pointed out before Detroit's gone from 31% to 51% of kids in charters and New Orleans is over 71% so this particular batch of educational "milk" appears to be made of just as much cream as there's room for it to rise. Or there's no cream-skimming going on and it's just that the rotten district schools, and the rotten district administration and school board, have lost the faith of the parents within its borders.

maxutils said...

I can only speak from my experience. In our area, charter schools are rare, and they turn away tons of students. They are allowed to deviate from the contract that the rest of the teachers in the district adhere to, and to teach at the charter school, you need to accept those conditions. I'm actually not sure where we disagree, here ... I DO think that we should provide/mandate a basic education for our children, but I'm totally opposed to the government monopoly on it ... maybe my solution isn't practical, now, but I prefer it to basically having a lottery to let a few students in to the 'good' school. Every single student deserves rge right to have a good school .. and perhaps one that focusses on his particular needs and skills. My plan does that. Charters don't. Charters allow the quickest parents most involved with their kids to put them in an environment where everyone cares about learning, and so learning is done. The ones that didn't get in? well, I guess that's their bad luck. I prefer a plan that benefits all...