Diane\'s Blog

Anonymous

I would like to tell you a little about myself before I enter the discussion. I grew up in New York and New Jersey and I am now a senior at the University of [removed for anonymity], majoring in Sociology, with a minor in Geography and International Studies. During my time in [removed for anonymity] and while I was living in NJ and NY I have been involved with schools, children and community organizations. My senior project this year has been a comparative analysis of gentrification in [removed for anonymity] and in [removed for anonymity]. I also have a lot of interests out of school, including being an avid reader, poet and athlete. I am definitely not trying to seem pretentious, I just want to give you an idea of who I am as a person.

Your article was really on point with things I have seen, felt or experienced in the classroom as youth and as an adult. I have had strong feelings against how charter schools currently operated, but have never been able to reinforce it with outside knowledge; it was solely experience and observations.

For the past three years I have worked as an Achievement coach at [removed for anonymity] High School, a charter school in [removed for anonymity]. [Removed for anonymity] was like the many NCLB schools around the country — it was shut down, teachers fired and reopened and remodeled with a new focus. It is also a school designed by the same architect who built many prisons.

[Removed for anonymity] Achievement is a program that sees students in action and collaborates with them, to change their schools and communities. I definitely have issues with the way our program was carried out, but it also served as a way for me to with communities I cared about, with access to the education system. In past years we have done projects with students including (but not limited to) a documentary, mural and job fair.

The former principal of the school was a gung-ho school reformer. She even promised all the students laptops when they graduated when the school was opened (promise never fulfilled.) The students that I have had, have the new upstart teachers from TFA or other programs and a revised curriculum that stresses excellence, without taking into account the students’ circumstances or previous or prior levels of education. The school also completely ignores the language barrier. (Ninety per cent of the school are Mexican students and half are undocumented)

The results have not gone well for the school thus far. Its difficult for me to see students who can’t read very well or have no passion for school because of prior education and the lack of cultural competency in the classroom. Also that combined with the destruction of arts and electives has limited the visions school have in general. The students I worked with all had the ability to do well but were consistently geared toward being “standardized.”

The parts of your article where you refer to education becoming a business as well as being highly selective are parts I can identify with a lot. In my eyes it patronizes poor children of color and places them against themselves.

I had a public school education that was very average and it was frustrating. I came from a family that continues to have issues and was consistently subject to non positive portrayals of people of color. I feel this one huge issue because education still has not embraced the realities of what this country has been through and where its at. The reform game magnifies this mistake by making it about money. It selects what students will succeed and which will fail in a tainted admissions process. It also creates a caste structure among students.

It is difficult to continue to see this take place in my community. I wanted to know what other ideas you have about forwarding a different dialogue.

Anonymous