Why Debate Charter School Diversity?


 

Since the public education system has been broken, children have been failing, dropping out, disproportionately disciplined, suspended and expelled. Urban public schools are largely under-funded and under-resourced, to the detriment of students most in need of a quality education. Cultural mis-matches, the lack of cultural proficiency, and professionals who practice under implicitly biased lens are all stifling learner potential.

Families, parents and caregivers have been alienated, feeling unwelcomed, and the curriculum has been irrelevant to the diversity represented in classrooms across the nation.

The biggest mistakes that schools make relate to race, culture and the perspectives from which the general curricula is designed. There is minimal relevance to the student experiences, which does little to validate, encourage or motivate engagement. ‘Immaculate perceptions’ reign supreme, and students of color and their families want better- opportunity, information and access!

Rather than redesign the theoretical framework of learning in 21st Century community schools, there began much blame casting, nit-picking, and then outright denial to self-examine- honestly and realistically. Impatiently awaiting the critical shifts needed in traditional public schools, Charter Schools entered the picture to offer an alternative “public” learning environment for children and their disenchanted and dissatisfied families.

 

Public schools began as separate and unequal learning institutions where the best and most resources were afforded the dominant culture, and that hasn’t changed significantly over the years. What was called, ‘white flight’, in communities that were already segregated,  ‘bussing’ in student diversity was the best way to level the field for achievement. That fizzled out, and what’s left are highly segregated ‘urban’ public schools of enrolled student populations who live in or near poverty. Is there any wonder why there are learning and achievement gaps?

In many ways, we set the stage when we abandoned communities for life in suburbia. Thus, we went from segregated schools to integrated schools, and back again-widespread re-segregated learning environments.  “We” took financial resources and left behind underfunded and overcrowded schools, with less experienced, ‘jaded’ and disconnected teaching staff.

The more affluent families can afford private schools, if dissatisfied with public education, and if their voices are unheard. Fortunately, families in poorer neighborhoods have the public charters, who actively seek motivated and culturally proficient educators.

How can we debate diversity in charter schools, when the appropriate question should pertain to the traditional K-12 public school? Design schools to ensure rich educational experiences and full mixtures of cultures, incomes and races that mirror the country, city or school community’s demographics.

The magnified lens with which we examine charters should be focused on how and why students achieve at higher numbers and family engagement and satisfaction is at higher levels than at the traditional public schools.

Though students benefit from complementary cultural and racial representation among staff,  it is more beneficial when educators respect the individual diversity of students and convey it in instruction and interactions within the learning settings.

Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy Charter network of schools asserts that their aim is to “redefine what’s possible in public education.” And…

 

Build exceptional, world-class public schools that prove that all children from all backgrounds can succeed in college and life; and serve as a catalyst and national model for education reform and help change public policies that prevent so many children from having access to opportunity.

– See more at: http://www.successacademies.org/about/#sthash.Q1MtMffx.dpuf

It seems that charters are delivering the quality that traditional schools have not. Furthermore, diversity is not a problem in charter schools; it’s a problem that manifests in perspectives of educators who lack cultural proficiency.

The advantage that charter schools have is rooted in their diversity component. They know the demographics, plan curriculum, garner community supports, and employ educators with this in mind….. and that’s a big part of their success.

Now, read this article via Data and the Debate Over Diversity in Charters – Education Week

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