This post contains one of the comments on the Minnesota charter story that I missed while my Internet service was down.
It contributes more to the discussion earlier about whether segregation is okay if it is voluntary.
Let me add that I have never supported the creation of public schools (are charters still public schools?) that welcome one race, one cultural group, one point of view, one group to the exclusion of others. I got death threats twenty years ago when I criticized Afrocentrism, and since then I have criticized Hebrew-language charter schools and an Arabic-language public school. My view is that if there is a demand for a foreign language, it should be taught in public school, but should not be the focus of the curriculum; that way tends towards ethnocentricity. I think the way a multicultural, multiethnic society works best is if we all work together and to the extent possible, learn together. That breaks down fear and misunderstanding.
I know that racial and ethnic segregation exists and that many schools are overwhelmingly one-race or nonwhite. That’s a fact. I just don’t like the idea of accepting it and saying it is inevitable. I grew up in the segregated South. I didn’t like segregation. I thought it was humiliating. I’m always happy now to visit the south and see people and children of different races working together. I wish it had always been like that. I don’t want us to accept segregation as a new normal. It should not be. It’s wrong.
|Back in January, I re-posted a tweet from Parents Across America founder Leonie Haimson that pointed to a post on a KKK-affiliated web site that cited this Bloomberg News article approvingly. The post’s author argued that the desire for separation was “natural” and praised the charter school movement for making this possible.Days later, still on vacation, I started getting calls from reporters at Michigan media outlets asking for my response to a vitriolic press release from the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (the main charter school trade/lobbying group in Michigan). MAPSA president Dan Quisenberry called my reposting “sickening,” “beyond insulting,” and “beyond outrageous.” Apparently, I had struck a nerve.I have not, and do not, accuse any charter school of breaking the law, though I am suspicious of the motivation of those who start charter schools designed to appeal to one ethnic or religious group. But as to MAPSA’s argument that “the claim itself has absolutely no merit,” they are on thin ice. A number of academic studies have shown that students in charter schools are likely to be in more segregated environments than their counterparts in local public schools in the same area.A recent policy brief on this subject: http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/chartering-equityHere in Michigan, we have charters that describe themselves as “Afrocentric,” that dedicate themselves to the study and celebration of the cultures of the Middle East, that have a clear focus on Latino students, and that advertise a “moral focus” (code for a Christian education, which they only abandoned under threat of lawsuit). How likely is a white family to enroll their child in an “Afrocentric” school; how likely is a Latino family to enroll their child in a school that focuses on Arab and Middle Eastern language and culture? How often will an African American family living in a small city choose to enroll their child in a charter focused on something like “aviation” which is located in a distant, mostly white, suburb and offers no transportation?I have no issue with celebrating different cultural identities and experiences, but I am very concerned that the headlong rush towards charters will only increase the segregation of our nation. We are playing into the hands of those, of whatever ethnicity or religion, who want to turn their backs on community-governed public education and provide segregated enclaves where children need only mix with those most like themselves. In doing so, we put at risk everything we have done to ensure justice, equal opportunity and equal protection for every American.
For those morbidly interested, the MAPSA press release, and our response, can be found here: