One of the big selling points of charter schools is supposed to be that they can escape and avoid all sorts of bureaucratic meddling and red tape that plague public schools. But it turns out that some conservatives are perfectly happy to extend red tape to charter schools if it's their preferred red tape.
Essence Preparatory was all set to launch in San Antonio, a school with a mission for high quality and culturally sensitive teaching. The school's founder, Akeem Brown, has been a busy guy in local government and community organizations. He mentions starting out as a teacher, though he has no education degree. But further down the line, he became a BES fellow, a group that has a twenty-year history of trying to grow charter school leaders (BES stands for Building Excellent Schools). So Brown's charter pedigree is flawless, and yet, when he was just about to open the doors of Essence Prep (did I mention this is in Texas) he hit a snag. See if you can spot the potential problem. In an interview, Brown explained some of the thinking behind Essence:Essence Prep competencies and teaching practices will be culturally responsive. Our pedagogy and tailored curriculum is purposely multicultural, and not white-centered.
Our school will connect students to the culture of literacy, which we believe is their birthright and civil right. We will engage students in critical reflection on their lives and racial identities in relation to power and justice. Research has consistently shown that positive racial identity matters for both Black boys and Black girls to be able to achieve academically and have the best shot at success in life.