There are few things sadder to me than to see small children standing in front of a microphone begging to keep their schools open. But that’s Memphis. It’s also Chicago, Philadelphia and New York and on and on. If you don’t yet have charter schools taking over your public schools don’t blink. They’re coming. They may already be negotiating with your local school board and you just don’t know it yet.
The names of the real public schools set for closure in Memphis are Klondike, Graves, Alcy, Gordon, Riverview, Shannon and Westhaven elementaries, Riverview Cypress, Corry, Lanier, and Vance middle schools and Northside High. I mention the school names because I think they matter.
Pretty soon they will be KIPP or Yes Prep, or Cornerstone or some chain charter beholden to a business venture…not the public. The same school you find in Memphis will be found in California or Florida or wherever. It won’t be unique or special. The name won’t matter.
Or some well-intended (we will be told) minister or businessperson will take over, promising to do it better than the real educators who once had some semblance of education professionalism. The Achievement School District will be over it all in Memphis and expanding. Teach for America rules, where the belief is less is more.
They won’t do it better but we will be told that they need to keep having chances to get it right or the grading scales will be lowered for them. How many children will eventually graduate who know how to march in line and take orders but little else?
It is interesting to me how parents in poor communities don’t seem to be buying into the Waiting for Superman propaganda that they bought several years ago. They realize funds have been drained from their schools and that things have been done to them to make them fail—rotting buildings where most of us wouldn’t want to set foot. Yet, these parents don’t want to lose what little they have.
I’m proud of them for recognizing the value of their neighborhood. They realize, as one parent noted, their school is the anchor in their community.
It’s sad really on many different fronts. For me, charters once had great promise for teachers and real public schools—the old Ray Budde, Albert Shanker plan. But they are all about making money now.
Speaking of which, the Memphis suburbs might feel all warm and cozy that they got their schools back, after the hostile takeover, no matter how segmented and how many tax dollars they have to pay…but don’t you blink either. They’re coming for your schools too. It may not be today or tomorrow…but they’re working in the backrooms to figure out a way.
Goodbye real school boards—where the democratic voice of the people can be heard—where you can complain about the books that are being used or the curriculum that is being taught. Your public schools…well they just aren’t public and they just aren’t yours anymore.