We are inspired by the work of Parents Across America, a grassroots organization working to improve the nation’s public schools. PAA supports proven, research-based reforms (small class size, pre-K and kindergarten, diversity, sufficient resources, and meaningful parent involvement).
Parents Across America does not support the poorly designed, high-stakes testing embodied in No Child Left Behind/ Race to the Top, or the fashionable (and to many corporations, profitable) rush toward vouchers and charter schools. In a nutshell:
- “A strong public education system is fundamental to our democracy. We oppose efforts to privatize public education through the expansion of charters, vouchers or other privately-run programs at the expense of regular public schools.”
Diane Ravitch, former Assistant Secretary of Education, has made some inspiring and enlightening videos about privatization masquerading at “reform.” She is particularly effective at pointing out that parents who resist this rush are not “defending the status quo.” Read her cutting-edge argument, “The Myth of Charter Schools.”
A recent SF Chronicle article points out the ways in which the rush to charter schools is not solving public education’s problems, as all the hype has promised.
This eye-opening article, “The Segregationist Roots of the Charter School Movement,” reminds us that “parental choice” has been taken up in the past in some very unsavory ways. And this recent study done at UCLA shows that “The charter school movement has been a major political success, but it has been a civil rights failure” because it has effectively re-instituted public school segregation. (Most relevant in our community: “Latinos are under-enrolled in charter schools in some Western states where they comprise the largest share of students. At the same time, a dozen states (including those with high concentrations of Latino students like Arizona and Texas) report that a majority of Latino charter students attend intensely segregated minority schools. “)
The blog Charter School Scandals has a wealth of information about dubiously implemented “reforms” that have taken place recently through the loosening of charter school laws.
Here are some ongoing struggles against privatization and school closure waged by parents across the state of California:
- The Sacramento Coalition to Save Public Education is challenging a for-profit educational corporation’s takeover of the second-oldest public high school in the West.
- Parents in the Los Altos School District, faced with closure of a high-performing school in order to accommodate a wealthy and less diverse charter school, have organized Bullis Charter Scam. We applaud this statement:
“Boutique Charter Schools are an interpretation of the Charter laws which the voters of California never intended. Charters were approved by Californians to create a solution for difficult areas (whether or not you agree if this was the right solution is beside the point). The Charter laws were never meant to allow rich people to displace top schools with their own experiments.”
A heartfelt editorial from a Brooklyn parent in the New York Times observes, “When charters open in their own privately financed, state-of-the-art buildings in poverty-stricken neighborhoods where they’re welcomed by the community, there may be reasons to celebrate. But when charters co-locate in mixed-income areas, choice is only half the story.” Exactly true of Santa Cruz public schools–a culturally rich and diverse mix of families learning from each other.