Dear KDE Board,
One thing I think we can all agree on is that we deserve to have great schools in every neighborhood. We have a great high school in the West End. But it doesn’t serve West End students who live around the school.
I bring this map to your attention to demonstrate that there are existing challenges that some of our priority schools face that must be understood before a charter school can be expected to solve problems for all of our students. And that’s what it’s about — ALL students.
We love our public schools. We need to water them and help them grow. Not bring in competition which creates winners and losers. Collaboration is the rising tide that will lift all ships. But don’t throw our babies out with the bath water.
As part of parent advocacy group Dear JCPS, it’s true we’ve been vocal but that’s tough love, because we want improvement. We have been working closely with our elected school board officials for a year and a half to shore up the items that will improve student achievement
We have to fix things at their foundational level.
As a parent of a student from a priority school that appears to be the target of charters, I have concerns that there are assumptions being made about what our real problems are.
Misconceptions about priority schools are more of a label than anything. This label creates additional burdens. Not helpful. High stakes tests do more harm than good in our gap populations. Challenge your core understanding before you try to fix a problem that is misunderstood.
So many things people don’t understand about what really contributes to failing schools:
- Myth. teachers are the problem. – Teachers in priority schools are some of the most mission driven, hardest working, talented and compassionate folks you’ll ever meet. Slapping a new sign on the building or “allowing” teachers to work harder for less money doesn’t help with teacher turnover. It will make it worse.
- Myth. Charters help Gap students in urban settings – NAACP doesn’t think so. That is why they placed a moratorium on charters.
Change the population by requiring an enrollment process? Why didn’t we think of that! If we wanted to change our scores we could do that tomorrow be changing the student mix. But that’s not what public schools are all about. And why closing low performing schools without truly understanding the situation is not a good solution for the kids.
- Myth. Charters improve outcomes of public schools in the communities where they are. That’s one report. I can give you 100 examples of reports that say otherwise. But maybe there are situations where this is true but you don’t have enough information to know which elements contribute to that factor.
Accountability doesn’t take into account the students you are serving. Test scores don’t tell full story. Creates emphasis on wrong thing. Causes adults to chase wrong goals.
Bottom 5% does not take into account that were being held to same standards as the magnet only schools that pick their students.
My son just graduated from a priority school. Through all of his opportunities he’s now at the Naval Academy. (Hence all of the nautical references in this speech.)
Even if we introduce charters, don’t forget we will still have public schools. What about those students whose parents can’t navigate and they are the ones who are left behind? We still need help in our remaining schools. Not distractions. Not bandaids. Not layers on broken problems. Charters won’t address the root problems and those who remain in public schools will never see these issues addressed.
If we have identified factors that make charter schools successful, don’t we all deserve them? Why not apply these changes across the fleet?
As they say in the Navy, Don’t give up the ship.
We have to think about our students. All students.
We are headed down a channel that could be shaped by decisions made here today.
On this Pearl Harbor day, Don’t let today be one that will live in infamy. No pressure.