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Thursday, October 2, 2014

School Segregation By Any Other Name: Separate But NOT Equal

Yesterday morning, I read a piece by Sam Pirozzolo in the New York Post to set the public-school blood pulsing through my veins boiling again.  He asks, "Would you want your child in one of the city's 371 public schools where at least 90 percent of the students are failing?"

He sees attacks on unions and the promotion of charter schools as the magic formula for student success when what in effect he advocates is de facto school segregation.  If public schools could pull out all  the highly motivated, high-achieving students and teach only to them--with a focus on prepping for tests--public schools would succeed as well.  If some of the most "successful" charter schools couldn't dump the children they deem less than desirable back into the public-school system, they would witness their statistics take a dive.  There is something in the phrase "public schools" that implies all children should be served in an equal opportunity learning environment.  Charter schools are not truly open to the public.

If public school teachers had an exchange program akin to "Wife Swap," let's call it "Teacher Swap," with charter schools, one would quickly realize that there is nothing in the caliber of teachers at these institutions to account for the success of one student population and the lack of it in another.  If anything, the charter-school workforce has such a high turnover rate that one suspects the environment might be carcinogenic.  Lack of experience is not a  formula for teacher success, let alone success at any job.  Lack of experience generally does not translate into expertise.  Cherry-picking students, however, may be statistical nirvana.  

Yes, Mr. Pirozzolo, parents will "show up Thursday for the Families for Excellent Schools rally."  But it is largely because they favor learning in segregated environments in which their children will not have to associate with students who may not follow rules as well or study as long.  Eva can cancel classes, if necessary, to turn out kids to protest.  But it doesn't change the fact that segregation by any other name is still segregation.  Ms. Moskowitz can claim higher test scores.  But what does it all prove?  In my mind, it goes a long ways to prove separate is NOT equal.

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