Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Feeling a little unsure these days

I think my need for change so quickly is starting to come to a halt. I am starting to feel like it is all just happening to fast. We just started this relationship less than two months ago. I am talking about my relationship with our new president, of course.

I have been in reasonably strong support of a lot of the significant changes and proposals thus far, but I am not so sure how I feel about his proposals for educational change today. Increasing charter schools by reducing the limits on these school and their quantity? Paying teachers for their "excellence?" What about No Child Left Behind? When do we address the mess that has made of our educational system? And who decides a teacher's excellence? Irrational test scores? A biased principal?

I have not had time to do extensive research on where he is going with these things and why he thinks they are good ideas, I will do that after I eat a bunch of (hopefully) awesome food tonight. So, please, do comment on here to me about any aspect of history or facts to make these proposals okay. I am merely at this point sharing an opinion, an initial reaction, not stating fact.

I work in schools. Everyday. Right now I work in a school that is about to be closed because many kids have moved to the charter schools in the surrounding communities. This is not the only reason, and I am aware of that. In general, the community that I serve is changing. It has becoming increasingly poor, unsupported by external resources and violent. Families are also moving to townships and out of the "inner city" because the economic spread of the city is sprawling. But, my problem with charter schools is not that families are leaving for those schools, it is that from what I have learned and observed, if a child does one small thing wrong they are out. Without any real support or intervention. Some may want this for particular types of children and families, but as a social worker and as a human being who believes all children deserve education and whatever support they need to get it, I have a real problem with this. Aren't these kids being kicked out the kids that really need us?

I am however, obviously, in strong support of Obama's advocacy for early education programming. It is clear from research and from first hand experience that early intervention and prevention is key in most if not all aspects of life to reduce risks and increase success and resilience. This I can stand behind, but I am very concerned that the teachers and educational administrators who work with our children day in and day out are not being heard. I am very concerned that if we continue to focus on blaming educational systems completely and not also looking at and building better communities around these schools, we will continue to fail children regardless of how many charter schools you open.

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