There’s a “public” school in Oakland that is 5% free and reduced lunch, 2% English language learners, 8% Latino and 8% Black. In Oakland… The average housing price in that neighborhood is $1.6 million. It’s also one of the highest achieving schools.
That’s the” public” school, you buy your way into an exclusive enclave and you get an exclusive school. That’s the “public” school.
So excuse me when my bullshit meter explodes, as folks want to always jump on the how charters aren’t public schools. Compared to what? That’s your “public” school.
Same in NYC with the gifted and talented programs and selective high schools, probably the same everywhere. The highest performing public schools, look nothing like the district, and seem to be doing nothing to increase equity. In fact it looks like quite the opposite.
But maybe that’s just me.
So please before you start talking about privatization, when charters come up for renewal or approval take a hard look. What are the demographics of those schools and how are they doing? The data is all public and online. If charters aren’t serving the “public” or serving them well, that’s one thing, but if they are, and the “public” schools aren’t, then what?
Public schools serve the public
There are a host of schools coming up for renewal right now in Oakland, Ascend, Learning Without Limits, Oakland Charter High School, and KIPP Bridge. The reports are online, all the data is there (or will be). Someone show me how 5% free and reduced lunch district school is more “public” than any of these schools.
Or if you watched the Board meeting with ARISE charter, Oakland Flatlands kids getting amazing experiences, show me how that’s not a “public” school.
The “publicness” of something isn’t based on whether the District runs the school. Legally segregated schools were “public.” So please let’s move beyond this tired rhetoric and look at who schools are serving and how well they are doing.
That seems a much better definition of “public.”
But if someone wants to convince me with some facts that 5% free and reduced lunch district school is more public than 95% free and reduced lunch charter school, I am all ears. I will even publish it.