Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Same Thing For Every Child

I woke up this morning with sore shoulders from swinging hammers and shoveling dirt all day at KIPP Central City Primary school. It was a great day despite the fact that we worked much harder than I thought we were going to. It was good to see a lot of parents that we haven’t seen before out there building benches and laying sod. Nothing brings a school together like getting your clothes dirty. We had more dads out there too and that always makes me better about things. I think more people show up each time because of the staff led by the principal Mr. Johnson. You don’t mind leaving your kids with that guy. New Orleans is lucky to have him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the main reason Chris Paul of the Hornets chose that school as the pilot for his Afterschool Zone.

People should know that the class of 2021 was the inaugural kindergarten class at KIPP Central City and at the time no one had any idea what was going to happen. We basically sent our children into a situation that could have gone either way. I mention this because I love my charter school but I don’t like the way the charter school situation is being handled as a whole. As a matter of fact, as time goes by I am not for or against charters, local control or choices for parents. I’m for a quality education for all the children of New Orleans and the easiest way to make sure that happens.

As a parent I love my school of choice. I don’t want anyone to stick their noses in and change anything just for the sake of changing it. If it’s not broke then don’t fix it. Now I know my school is a charter school and since I love it then that should be in favor of charter schools. I’m in favor of what’s going on over there but why does it have to be restricted to just schools under the banner of that charter or any other charter if what they are doing is working. After five years since the schools were taken over, we should be at a point now where we are ready to streamline this thing and implement the processes that have show success across the board. That means to me that the city should be able to run its own schools and that nothing going on at KIPP should be in danger. Instead of going in there and changing what the successful schools are doing the other schools should be learning from them. That sounds like what would be happening if it was truly all about educating every child.

Thursday I read a newspaper article that said that almost 20 new groups have applied for a charter to run schools in New Orleans. When I see that I’m thinking the powers that be are still experimenting and playing games with the kids’ future. If we already have programs that are successful then either let them have all the charters or apply parts of what they do to every school and give the city control provided they wouldn’t go into schools and start removing people just to bring their friends back on a post Katrina revenge mission.

When I see all these new potential charters it makes me wonder about what happens to those kids if things don’t work out. I think we have a good idea of what’s working so lets just do those things. I keep hearing the word “choices” everywhere when the discussion of public schools in New Orleans comes up. As a parent and concerned city I don’t care about choices. I care about educating everybody enough to have a good life and stay out of poverty. That shouldn’t have anything to do with choices. I want everyone to have the same feeling about their school that I do and until we take the guessing game out of that then the system is still failing.

Some of our children are are in great schools in the city but we can't isolate them from everybody else that's not.


Deb said...

Great post Clifford!

Anonymous said...

I was in a meeting this morning and it was told to us that if all the schools that have applied for charter status receive it, combined with the schools that the RSD is going to close, next year, there will be 10 public schools left in the city of New Orleans. What happens to the students that are at one of those schools? They get shoved into a less than par building or a trailer park serving as a school campus. They get teachers that are burnt out and trying to make it until retirement. Worst of all they have the stigma of not being good enough to go to one of those "other" schools. I am a special Ed teacher and by law Charter schools are required to pay for their students to get special ed services, they dont always have the money so those students lose out. At the end of the day the Charter, public, RSD, OPSB, either way our children are suffering!

bayoucreole said...

Well said Cliff.