I just pulled Jonathan Kozol's excellent book, The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America off the shelf. It reminds me of another thing that sticks in my craw about the charter school "movement"--the race question. Everything--from the charter school Web sites, to the rallies, to the glossy brochures--cry out against racial inequality and evoke the civil rights movement.
But the whole project is based on a rejection of one of the key goals of the civil rights movement: desegregating the schools. For all their talk of the race gap, why is there no discussion about mixing the predominantly kids of color from the city with the predominantly white kids in the suburbs? What about Brown v. Board of Education?
In his introduction to Shame of the Nation, Kozol writes of Black public school administrators who are pained by the fact that their schools are still so segregated, and by the fact that they are put in a position that requires them "to set aside the promises of Brown.
Perhaps--while never stating it or even thinking of it clearly--these administrators are being forced to settle for the promise made more than a century ago in Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 Supreme Court ruling in which "separate but equal" was accepted as a tolerable rationale for the perpetuation of a dual racial system in American society."
In this context, there's something a little more than sinister about billionaires using the iconography of the civil rights movement to set up "separate but equal" schools in the inner cities, masking the goal of privatization behind a call for racial justice.
Please read Brian's whole article since we need people to have strong, principled arguments against the corporate charter spin machine.
Think Alliance, Brightstar, and Green Dot have plans to desegregate their so called public schools? Ask them to show you their plans. During the hostile take over of Locke, did Steve Barr, Marco Petruzzi, and Ben Austin discuss bussing inner city children of color into their own exclusive neighborhoods of Silver Lake, The Venice Canals, and Beverly Hills? A good indication of how these corporate pirates see things is found in Caroline Grannan's Green Dot revolution targets school that outperforms current Green Dotters. In the comments section she quotes Ben Austin as saying Warner Avenue Elementary is wonderful. She then lists a table of demographics showing Warner as being 77% white. Coincidence? Here's her revealing comment in its entirety.
Caroline, SF Education Examiner says:
I looked up the LAUSD school that Ben Austin characterizes as "wonderful," Warner Avenue Elementary in Westwood. To say it's not representative of LAUSD is putting it mildly -- I had no idea that such a school even existed in the district. Its 948 API is indeed pretty wonderful, though its diversity isn't. This also includes demographics for Emerson, which Austin characterized as "failing."
Warner Avenue 1.8%
Emerson Middle School 20.9%
Warner Avenue 13%
Emerson Middle 5.4%
Warner Avenue 2%
Emerson Middle 20.5%
Warner Avenue 6.5%
Emerson Middle 58.9%
Low-income students (based on whether they qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch):
Warner Avenue 3%
Emerson Middle School 70.8%
Warner Avenue 77%
Emerson Middle 11.7%