It seems like a simple question. When asked, people will most likely give an answer like, “to give children an education” or “to help children grow up to become competent adults,” but what do those
really mean? Does a competent adult think critically, ask questions, challenge paradigms, or simply show up for work on time every day?
One could argue that our system of compulsory education, from the beginning, has not been about raising dynamic, critical, and innovative thinkers, it has been to raise the next generation of good, obedient workers. To maintain the status quo, the powers that be need a steady stream of skilled, competent, and obedient workers who are willing to work as hard as they are told to for whatever compensation is deemed adequate. Without this base of productivity, the status quo would be severely compromised.
What is the role of charter schools?
Could charter schools be used to finetune this system? The last decade has seen a boom of charter schools all across the nation that shows no signs of slowing any time soon. Charter schools, seen as the savior of a seemingly disgraced public school system, provide parents with a choice of how their child is educated and offer many benefits to their students that public schools cannot. (We could get into why this is, but that is another blog post of its own!) What they also offer are extremely tailored educations for specific populations of people, specifically African American children. A Google search of “charter school segregation” turns up dozens of articles citing the fact that charter schools are more likely to be segregated by class and/or race than their public school counterparts.
In New York’s public school system, more than half of the city’s public charter schools are at least 90% black. This raises many questions.
- Are children in these schools receiving the same type of education, albeit in a different form, then their nonminority counterparts?
- Where are all the non minority students?
- How is schooling being used in this context?
- How do we feel about it?
These are the questions we should be asking today when thinking about the future of education in America.