Hey assholes, stay out of this. Don’t be so excited to take the only thing we have. I realize it’s nice being from Chicago and New York, where teams, you know, actually win things, but people from Cleveland don’t think this is so funny.
Entries tagged with “Cleveland”.
Mon 24 May 2010
Mon 30 Mar 2009
Education is pretty obviously one of the most important ways to combat poverty, and it certainly can’t hurt in a recovery from a recession either. That hasn’t stopped Ohio from cutting the budgets of charter schools. Through her short term teaching at Cleveland public schools, my wife (and I) became very aware of the beneficial role that charter schools play, especially when contrasted with some of the public schools. So I’m pretty sad to see this happen, and sadder still at the governor’s campaign to destroy them entirely (points to Obama for calling him out on it).
Two stories from my wife outline my feelings about the situation: one, where she was tutoring at a shall-remain-nameless Cleveland public school, and the other from some time she spent helping students from a charter school.
At the public school, she was tutoring at-risk students with their science homework. They had not completed any homework at all that year (most students preferred not to take anything home since it just meant something else the security people had to go through at the metal scanners at the entrance), so she helped them work through it. It wasn’t really that they couldn’t do it, it was that they really disliked their teacher, so they refused to do anything she asked. The next day, when they miraculously turned in their homework, the teacher informed them that she wouldn’t accept it because they must have cheated, because they were obviously too stupid to have done it correctly. She threw out the work. My wife was tempted to complain to someone, but was told there was no point because the teacher in question was the teacher’s union representative.
At the charter school, my wife took students to visit nearby colleges to see which they wanted to attend. She asked them what they were looking forward to, and what they were afraid of. One said that the thing she was most upset about was that in going to college, she was going to have leave her school, which “she loved.” I went to a nice suburban high school for four years, and I don’t think I ever heard a single student say they loved school, much less this one specifically.
Yeah, yeah, anecdotes don’t make a case. But what it comes down to is choice: every student at the charter school chose to go there. They could go back to their geographically segregated schools, but they and they parents didn’t want to. By cutting funding for charter schools, we’re making that choice more expensive for some of the poorest families in our city. Is that really what they need right now?
Pre-emptive counter-argument: if you think that the reason the charter students seemed happier was because of selection bias, that’s probably somewhat true. By definition, they or their parents had made a choice in their schooling, implying a higher level of interest in succeeding at such things. But many of the students at the charter schools were neighbors of the students who attended the public school. They endured the same poverty, violence and other issues that plagued their neighborhoods. Yet one group loved school, and the other was told they were too stupid to succeed.
These kids aren’t failing because they come from bad circumstances or because they’re stupid or undisciplined. They’re failing because the one thing that was promised to help them out of these situations is completely failing them. Charter schools are a chance, even for just a few, to escape that failure. They have even fewer resources than the public schools, yet some are succeeding. They’re like lifeboats, and while I often disagree with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, I humbly submit the same sentiment from them:
[Ohio Governor] Strickland should think twice before ordering every child out of these little lifeboats, because some of them would certainly be forced back aboard sinking ships.
My only complaint is with the tense of verb used to describe the metaphorical ship that is the Cleveland public school system.
Pre-emptive counter-argument 2: it’s not important that charter schools be superior to every public school, or even most of them. They just have to be better than the worst public schools in their area. And for schools in East Cleveland, that is a very low bar.