With all due respect to the United Federation of Teachers, what wrong with parents having a choice on Charter Schools?
It breaks my heart with the percentage of children that are not graduating from High School. Pick a city—select any state, and it is mostly children of color that are dropping out in record numbers.
Charter schools are one of the big debates in Harlem these days with State Senator Bill Perkins being adamantly against them yet parents in the district are deciding in droves to support such schools “with their feet.”
Pick a year, any year. There are always thousands of applications for just a few open Charter seats. So, does this amount to Perkins turning his back on the best interest of the community?
For the record Perkins describes himself as a strong advocate of public education. We should expect, no, demand of him and every other elected official to be such supporters.
He also says he has fought to provide every child equal access to a quality education.
Fact is we can continue to play games, or pretend to be in la-la land, but right here in NYC alone, children DO NOT have equal access to a quality education. It all depends on what is your zip code, and still in 2010, who do you know.
I'm well aware of the rap on Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, that DOE doesn't give parents enough of a say in matters, but one of the things that always impressed me with Klein is early in his tenure he privately told me he was going to expose the racism in the system, and didn't care whose toes he was stepping on. It bothers me–to this very day that I never heard an African American or Latino Chancellor make such a bold committment.
There is no denying that the most parents see the Charters as the best and only hope for a high quality education.
Charters are publicly funded, but privately run, and the catch here is that they do not operate with all the labor rules as public schools. Their academic results, for the most part are far superior to those of public schools.
So it comes down to this, if a public official truly cares about their constituents—giving the historically poor performance of Harlem public schools, why not give parents a better option?
And what’s making matters worse in this case is Perkins himself. It’s difficult to make his argument when Perkins got to attend a prestigious high school on a scholarship. Collegiate Preparatory School in Manhattan and later go to Brown University on a scholarship.
I could see my grandmother if she were alive, stating calmly to me: Boy what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
I went to five high schools in four years before graduating from Theodore Roosevelt in the Bronx. I was only able to go to college because of a State University of New York initiative titled, Educational Opportunity Program or better known as EOP. I had grown up on Welfare, and didn’t match the academic criteria of a “normal” college student.
I know firsthand we can’t give up on our kids because three years later I graduated from college before going on to graduate school at the prestigious Newhouse school at Syracuse University. So when education is discussed I take it as personal as personal gets.
Play politics somewhere else.
That would be the equivalent of me saying I got mine, now shut down the program. The equivalent of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas attending Holy Cross College and Yale Law School as a beneficiary of affirmative action programs and asserting blacks and other so-called minorities should lift themselves up by their own boot straps. Or for denouncing his own sister for being on welfare-when she helped raised him.
Of course, I have instead advocated for the program to grow. I pray for its success as every year EOP is looking at enormous budget cuts. Please, let our kids get their education.
From his own bio, Perkins says:
“He advocated for and allocated funding for computer technology, public libraries and the rehabilitation of school playgrounds. He helped fight for and won increased funding for the City University of New York (CUNY) scholarships, full-time staffing and college preparatory courses. Bill is one of the leading voices on maintaining the public university’s mission of access and excellence.”
But there is no getting around it. It was all ok for Sen. Perkins education but not for the children in 2010?
Perkins move doesn’t pass the smell test, and to put it in the words of fellow democrat, Bronx Assemblyman Michael Benjamin, “it disingenuous" for blocking charter-school options.
Quote: "He won't allow parents the choice his own parents chose for him."
Fellow Harlem politicians have never necessarily liked Perkins and see him as overly ambitious. That’s inside baseball as far as I’m concerned. We’ll see if he is re-elected.
To a degree, you have to respect his independence. Perkins was also one of the first elected officials to support President Obama when it wasn’t popular. At a time when there could have been payback for his decision to endorse Obama over hometown favorite Hillary Clinton.
Whether you like him or not, Perkins is right on the money in calling for more regulation and transparency about charter school finances. There is nothing wrong with that.
And there is a strong argument to be made about if charters receive public money, then why should they object to oversight hearings by a legally constituted body of the New York State Senate.
Bottom line. Let parents decide what’s best for their own kids. The more options, the better.