The standard charter claim is that charters can do what public schools cannot-- take the same kids and
At Success, we simply don't believe in throwing people on the trash heap for the sake of public relations.
Success Academy simply doesn't just toss human beings aside because those people don't serve Moskowitz's purpose. Of course, that still leaves the mystery of how SA loses half of each cohort on the way to graduation. But all those parents talking about their experience of being pushed out? Liars or deluded or something.
Mike Petrilli calls "bullshit." In fact, he calls bullshit on everybody, including the people who have been howling at the Success Academy revelations, in particular taking a shot at Randi Weingarten of AFT:
What makes this sort of demagoguery more disappointing than usual is the nature of the issue at hand. As Weingarten’s own members know all too well, classroom disruption is a major problem. In a Public Agenda survey, 85% of public school teachers said that the experience of most students suffers because of a few chronic offenders.
Petrilli's position has been consistent and clear for years-- some students are a Big Problem, and schools should be able to make those students go away, so that the deserving, worthy students can have an education untroubled by troublemakers. I have a couple of problems with Petrilli's position:
1) After we get rid of trouble students, where do they go?
2) It's a mistake to assume that being a problem student is a static, immutable, hardwired, consistent condition.
3) The whole American public education deal is that we educate everybody, not just the "deserving."
For Petrilli, the whole point of charters is to give a space where "strivers" can stop being held back by all those Other Students who create disruption and trouble. And instead of yelling at people like Eva Moskowitz who are doing such a good job of winnowing out the non-strivers, we should give public schools the same sorts of powers.
This is exactly the wrong approach. Rather than piling old restrictions on charter schools, we should be working to reduce the restrictions on traditional public schools.
Well, sort of. Though I have to ask-- if we actually did that, why would we need charters at all? But when you say it that way, it doesn't sound so bad. But then, as his closer, Petrilli says it this way.
By all means, we should work to serve all kids well, including the serial disrupters, but not necessarily in the same classrooms or schools.
Rather than blast Moskowitz, Weingarten and others should ask that district teachers have the ability to prioritize the vast majority of their students, too. That would be worth crowing about.
Prioritize our students? Like, decide which students deserve how much education?
Petrilli's point is not completely without merit, and as teachers often lack sufficient time and resources, many do perform a certain amount of educational triage by considering which students need us most. And every teacher knows the frustration of having a classroom tyrannized by one serial disrupter. But "prioritize" students? That sounds like a level of judgmental school administration that I'm not comfy with, and I suspect would provide an avenue for biases and concerns for compliance to run roughshod over actual care and concerns for the well-being of students.
Look-- Success Academy is not nobly rescuing the top strivers from difficult situations. They are picking winners and losers based on the school's preferences and the school's convenience, based on Moskowitz's two guiding values-- compliance and test scores. When a six year old cracks under that sort of misguided pressure, that's not revealing some sort of character deficiency or lack of striverness. It's revealing an institutional incompetence in dealing with six year olds.
But I appreciate Petrilli's willingness to just say it-- charters are only for the chosen few, those that the school finds deserving. What I'd really like to know next is how a system in which a school is the final arbiter of what level of education a child deserves fits together with the reformy ideals of school choice?