Friday, May 26, 2017

School Choice? Some Kids Don’t Really Have One | NewBlackMan (in Exile)

School Choice? Some Kids Don’t Really Have One | NewBlackMan (in Exile):

School Choice? Some Kids Don’t Really Have One


School Choice? Some Kids Don’t Really Have One
by Jamila Thomas | special to NewBlackMan (in Exile) | The OpEd Project

When it comes to school choice, I am not convinced all children have one. Parents living on the margins don’t have much of a choice, either. As I walk the halls of schools, and talk with teachers, students and parents, it becomes obvious for certain students, “choice” is a popular phrase signaling quality and high-impact results — but doesn’t at all mean what it says.

If anything, poor and racially marginalized black and brown students make a choice to come to school in the first place. Based on funding formulas and limited resources and services many students showing up bedecked in white shirts and khakis, expect to gain a fair and equitable education they won’t actually get. While “choice” is being pushed from the federal level down to the closest city block, what’s being offered is more of a stripped-down facsimile of public education that does not serve all students. And if the Trump administration budget is any indication, the expansion of so-called “choice” can’t help students because of more than $9 billion (13.5 percent) in Education Dept. cuts that accompany this move.

This is happening while investors leverage money-making opportunities to make “education” a product by siphoning public dollars into charters and vouchers that don’t deliver the results they promise. In fact, many of the children who are angry or ill prepared are the mercy of their parents’ plight or bad decisions. Their demeanor is not reflective of their desire to be a good student but of a more complex situation. Yet, for many this noble idea of choice seems like the answer. Meanwhile, most schools still aren’t prepared to cope with the totality of a child’s experience.

Budgets impact everything from school resources to hiring the best teachers. When children from racially and economically marginalized communities are siphoned from neighborhood schools into charter schools run on slim budgets, they are forced to battle for more than the right to learn. The real choice being made may well be safety, as parents from marginalized communities smartly prioritize sending children to safe environments but ones that don’t happen to deliver solid learning results. A recently released study of D.C.-based school charter school School Choice? Some Kids Don’t Really Have One | NewBlackMan (in Exile):


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