Charter school attacks lay bare institutional racism

White families “do best” for their children; when Latinos or African-Americans exercise choice, it’s called a “drain”

Out of the 11.6 million new jobs created nationally since the Great Recession, 99 percent went to those with college experience. If we want California’s economy to thrive, we need to develop a more capable and diverse workforce of college graduates from among all communities across the state.

Public charter schools — 100 percent of which are run by non-profit organizations — are playing a critical role on that front.

Whether you’ve spent time in a public charter school or never heard of them, the impact that these tuition-free public schools have on our communities and our state is undeniable — perhaps nowhere more so than within California’s most historically underserved communities.

Sixty-one percent of California’s K-12 student population is considered “low-income.” Low-income students at public charter schools score higher in both math and English Language Arts as compared to students who attend traditional government-run district schools.

Charter schools are also graduating a higher percentage of low-income students from high school and enrolling a higher percentage in two- and four-year colleges. Most importantly, charter school graduates are earning their bachelor’s degrees at four times the national rate of students from similar communities.

When our students succeed, the future of our entire state is brighter.

High-quality public education is a fundamental right with the capacity to transform lives, sustain communities and impact future generations. Historically and today, communities of color and low-income families often have the poorest-quality and most-limited educational opportunities.

More than 20 years ago, public charter schools began opening in California to empower families with another choice. Today, California’s 1,253 public charter schools educate 652,933 students, 59 percent of whom are socioeconomically disadvantaged. Seventy percent are students of color, 15 percent are English-language learners, and 10 percent are students with special needs. California’s public charter schools represent only 10.6 percent of all public schools across the state.

Recently, the state Senate and Assembly education committees dealt these students, families and communities a significant blow with the passage of four bills. These bills would put a moratorium on public charter schools, limit the growth of new charters, and eliminate academic opportunity from families who have been underserved for decades. This legislation suggests a misleading and divisive zero-sum “district-versus-charter” rhetoric.

Limiting public charter schools will continue to disempower low-income, Latino and African-American families — families who want to make the best choices for their children and who deserve high-quality public school options.

When a white, wealthier family leaves a neighborhood public school for an affluent suburban school, a parochial or private school, or a magnet school, we accept that “they are doing what is best for their child.”

But when a Latino or African-American family makes that same choice, we call it a “drain” on public education. This double standard bares the institutional racism of how public education has worked historically in our state.

Charter schools represent one piece of a broader solution, showing results, especially for students who have been historically underserved. It is counterintuitive to limit school options when the state still has much work to do when it comes to equity and quality in public education.

We call on our elected officials to oppose this package of harmful bills so that each and every child in California has access to a high-quality public education, and that our state has the most-skilled, most-prepared workforce to flourish in the 21st century.

Mala Batra is interim CEO of Aspire Public Schools. Beth Sutkus Thompson is CEO of KIPP Bay Area Public Schools. Dan Katzir is CEO of Alliance College-Ready Public Schools.

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Wade Stevenson
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Wade Stevenson

I really feel when you publish something like this you should identify the authors of the piece, that is three people tied to the charter school movement. It might help people to know that one author of the piece is the CEO of Aspire and another is the head of the Bay Area Kipp schools.

-Editor
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-Editor

Thanks for your observation. We don’t really feel required to make the kind of identity call you’re asking for. We provided a link to the original source (the San Jose Mercury News). No attempt to hide or obfuscate the authors’ affiliations. That is very much different than much of the anti-charter commentaries’ hiding their teacher union affiliations (Capital & Main), which we have called out. Having said that, in an attempt to further the cause of transparency, we will try, when possible, to post author backgrounds. At the same time hoping you will provide a heads up when you find… Read more »

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Administrators of traditional public schools that primarily serve low-income students of color said exactly the same thing about local control and zip code based walls that express racist protectionism

Wade Stevenson
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Wade Stevenson

Unfortunately anyone reading this article might not know it was an opinion piece written by three CEO’s of Charter schools, or that the NAACP responded with an opinion piece of its own throwing cold water on the three CEO’s conclusions.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Much of the demand for charter alternatives has come from families of color. That profit motives have f#%d up the possibilities does not negate the fact that families of color are leaving public schools that have failed their students. The NAACP has been criticized for its stance by many black organizations – its membership is strained and many believe their decision on this front – despite the fact that it alienated many parents who couldn’t/wouldn’t wait for a failed schools to improve themselves – was to bolster political alliance with very powerful teacher’s unions

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Important to note: Charter schools in California are non-profits. It’s a state law. And yes, people of color are seeking educational opportunities for their students, and many traditional public schools are pretty bad. The teachers union has a singular motivation: power. The larger their union, the more power. Charter schools are a threat to the union because most of the charter teachers aren’t unionized, so the union no longer has a monopoly. Therefore the union has convinced people that charter schools are taking too much funding from districts, prompting a fearful reaction. This has nothing to do with educational quality.… Read more »

-Editor
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-Editor

First part answered. And we are mindful of the NAACP’s viewpoint in the context of the black experience with educational discrimination but feel it is irrelevant in terms of the Ross Valley situation – for obvious reasons. And we find it disingenuous, deceptive and grossly manipulative when Stand uses the NAACP to trigger white Ross Valley liberal frames.
Everyone knows by now that the chartering of the RVSD MAP program was a requisite for survival, not an option.

Wade Stevenson
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Wade Stevenson

Indeed it is irrelevant in terms of the Ross Valley situation. The school board shoulders the blame for a lack of wisdom in not recognizing the consequences that would emanate from its actions. That said, I still have a problem with the opinion piece and its democracy destroying “traditional government-run” language. But I understand that this is a site that promotes charter schools and promotes charter schools, and I admire your persistence even though I think you are misguided.

-Editor
Guest
-Editor

Just to clarify, we admit we do appear to “promote charter schools,” but that is not really our goal, mission or intention. What we are trying to do is point out that charters can be the only effective way to bring about change and improvements in teaching methodologies in some school districts. When parents and teachers collaborate amazing things can happen. And they happen now, for your child, not 10 years down the road.
Show us another model that can bring about change within the calcified and monolithic educational institution.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

The people who want to stop charter schools from existing are basically saying everyone should have to go to the same public schools, and there shouldn’t be any “competition.” Imagine if that was the case with people who sell cars or cell phones. What would be the motivation to improve or innovate? Charter schools help to keep the public whole system on its toes. I’ve heard a principal in a district with several charter schools say, “We have to really be on our game to keep up with the charter schools.”

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Not incidentally – RVC is serving a far higher % of Title 1 and English language learners – and will continue to do so – than the district. Low income parents deserve choices when their home districts don’t serve their kids well.

Wag
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Wag

Choices ? Send them to private school. Cough up $40 g or get out of town. ☠️ STAND ☠️