The Times, in its never-ending push for charter schools has one last salvo to throw out there and boy, it's big. Actually it's two.
The first one is that this is a civil rights issue. Lynne Varner, who sadly writes about education for the editorial board and yet seems to never do her homework, says it is. She writes, constantly, about Rep. Eric Pettigrew (of the 37th) and how he believes his district has been underserved.
What's interesting to me about that is the Pettigrew and Varner complain about the exact same things and never offer any real ideas of their own.
She also cites writer Pedro Noguera who writes for Ed Week and links a his blog post about a recent visit to Seattle. She says this:
Noguera does not see charters as public education's salvation or its
downfall making his words all the more compelling.
He wrote: "I find it ironic and hypocritical that the opponents of
charter schools don't voice much objection to the loss of affluent
children to private schools. Moreover, there are selective public
schools that are limited to so-called gifted children (typically the
most privileged) and concentrate the neediest children in
under-resourced schools. Why do you think so little concern is expressed
about the effect these schools have upon public education? Clearly,
private schools and screen schools are exacerbating efforts to promote
integration and equity in public schools, but I hear so little from the
opponents of charters about these issues."
That was one salvo and one that, apparently, El Centro de La Raza,
the NAACP, the Washington State PTA, the Japanese-American Citizens League Board, Asian Pacific Islanders for Civic Empowerment, the UW Alumni Assn. Multicultural Alumni Partnership Board and the Tacoma Pierce County Black Collective don't favor in our current discussion over I-1240.
Back to her point - people in Seattle HAVE said this for years. The puzzlement has been the district's silence and shrug of the shoulders. The district has always taken it for granted that "that's the way it's always been" but a lot of us thought they could/should have fought back. But Lynne, except for a few scattered exceptions - our schools ARE now full.
Mr. Noguera complains about "concentrating" needy students. The district did this? Or did the history of Seattle (and probably every urban area in the country). You cannot lay residency patterns at the district's feet.
But she left out what he also said in that piece:
I think the charter advocates are wrong about the effect of competition.
There is no evidence that charter schools are superior to traditional
public schools, nor is there any evidence that the spread of charter
schools has prompted public schools to improve. Instead, parents in
cities like New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia are being
pitted against one another as they fight for space, while educators in
charters and traditional public schools work in isolation from each
other. We are spending so much time fighting over charter schools and so
little time working to improve our public schools where the vast
majority of children are still being educated.
Deborah, we've got to find a way to shift the focus of reform away from
distractions like charter schools and on to issues like inequality,
racial segregation, and the need to improve schools that have been
struggling for years and to create schools where children are
I believe that latter point is really the one he wanted to make.
Her last salvo is this one:
Indeed, Seattle's biggest charter opponents have long relied on
well-resourced schools in North End neighborhoods or charter-like
alternative schools for their own children. And no surprise, Seattle's
private school enrollment remains steady.
And there you have it folks. Ms. Varner is treading on very unsteady ground in saying that NO one has ever cared what has happened in the south end AND that it's those terrible northend parents who are at fault. She fails to say that the northend schools are largely "well-resourced" because of parents and not anything the district ever did.
She also fails to understand that schools are underresourced at this point and bringing on more of them is NOT the way to solve anything.