Favorite

A warning about school privatization 

Arkansas is considering a grand education experiment in House Bill 1733 to privatize your public schools. Take it from us in New Orleans and Chicago: The experiment won't work.

The school privatization models imposed on New Orleans and Chicago have many flaws. The chief flaws are the ideas that we have systems built on parent choice and that choice improves student learning. Nothing could be further from the truth.

New Orleans has closed over 20 schools in the Recovery School District over the last five years, displacing over 4,000 children. In Chicago, 50 schools were closed in 2013 to make way for new charters. They took away our neighborhood schools to give us their idea of "school choice."

School closings, huge numbers of charters and other such interventions do not equal choice. Someone chose for us, without our input or OK. Chicago and New Orleans got a wave of privatization instead of investing in community schools that families could count on in their own neighborhoods. We got ideology instead of research-based practices. It made education worse in our communities.

Theoretically parents could send their kids to any school in the city. The reality is we now have to enter a lottery just to have a school for our children anywhere in the city. If we don't get our children into the school of our choice, we no longer have a neighborhood school to fall back on. This is chance, not choice.

Most importantly, this "choice" and "competition" is failing to deliver improvements to our education system. In Chicago, scores have dropped at two-thirds of the 49 receiving schools. Only 18 percent of the mostly charter and contract schools that have replaced closed schools since 2002 perform well. Fifty-six percent of the Recovery School District schools were rated D or F at the end of the 2013-14 school year in New Orleans. Not one RSD school was rated A, fewer than 10 were rated B and 20 were rated C.

The Louisiana Department of Education took over 107 schools that were scoring below the state average and placed them into the Recovery School District after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After nine years of state control, only four of the 107 schools taken over by the RSD are above the state average. As Chicago closed schools we saw conditions deteriorate. We have special education students being taught under the stairs, we have a combined kindergarten/first-grade class with 42 children and we no longer have space for parent activities.

We spend more and get less with the "choice" and privatization envisioned by your HB 1733. Many parents have to wake their children in the early morning hours to be bused across town to often failing or near failing schools. In the 2001-02 school year, $13.9 million was spent on transportation to 120 schools in New Orleans. Currently $35 million is being spent on more than 80 schools. Certainly many parents would rather see this type of education spending increase inside the classroom rather than on transportation.

So many outside people came to New Orleans and Chicago to help reform our public education system, but they didn't come here and ask us what we wanted. They came here with their ideas of what they thought education reform was about. They often had little practical experience or research to support their theories. With heads full of ideology they never took the time to get to know us or what our concerns were about our public schools.

It was such a wasted opportunity because our communities desperately want to improve our public schools, but we had "reform" done to us instead of with us. Our children will be paying the price for a generation.

The ideology behind your HB 1733 is not based in the reality of what helps children. It is built on an illusion of parent choice. When you have a forced choice, that isn't parent choice at all.

We know you are thinking, "Well, that could never happen in Arkansas!" We hope it doesn't for your sake. We hope Arkansas lawmakers have the good sense to reject copying the disaster that's been made of our education systems. We hope you will get involved now in the fight for the schools our children deserve.

Irene Robinson is a grandparent of eight Chicago Public School students and a local school council member at Mollison Elementary School. Karran Harper Royal is a parent and education advocate in New Orleans.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Schlafly's influence

    Phyllis Schlafly, mother, attorney and longtime antifeminist, died recently. What Schlafly promoted was not novel or new. Men had been saying that men and women were not equal for years. However, anti-feminism, anti-women language had much more power coming from a woman who professed to be looking out for the good of all women and families.
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Seven

    The controversy over the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol lawn just won't go away.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Why a change of leadership at the LRSD now?

    Johnny Key's abrupt, unilateral decision to not renew Baker Kurrus' contract as superintendent strikes us as shortsighted, misguided and detrimental to the education of our children and the health of our community.
    • Apr 21, 2016

Most Shared

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
  • Art bull

    "God, I hate art," my late friend The Doctor used to say.
  • Not justice

    The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
  • Judge Griffen writes about morality, Christian values and executions

    Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who blogs at Justice is a verb!, sends along a new post this morning.
  • The Ledell Lee execution thread

    Arkansas Times contributor Jacob Rosenberg is at the Cummins Unit in Grady filing dispatches tonight in advance of the expected execution of Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to death for the Feb. 9, 1993, murder of Debra Reese, 26, who was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Jacksonville.

Latest in Guest Writer

  • Not justice

    The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • Hutchinson's Pinto moment

    The Ford Motor Co. brought the Pinto to America's highways, even though it knew the car had serious safety problems. Indeed, Pinto after Pinto burst into flames in rear-end collisions, causing severe injuries and deaths. Ford's lack of moral and economic judgment brought shame to the company's brand for decades.
    • Apr 6, 2017
  • Seven

    The controversy over the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol lawn just won't go away.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Event Calendar

« »

April

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Art bull

    • the nice thing about art is that it is what it is, but what it…

    • on April 22, 2017
  • Re: Executionpalooza

    • Fantastic work-from-home opportunity for everyone... Work for three to five hrs a day and start…

    • on April 21, 2017
  • Re: Erasing humanity

    • Exactly how I feel only written much better than I could.

    • on April 21, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation