SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Thank You Peter Murphy

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thank You Peter Murphy

I really wish to thank Peter Murphy of the NYCSA for appearing last night. He was a good sport about it, and in my opinion did the beast he could probably knowing he was going into enemy territory. But one thing sticks out, the "pat" answer he kept giving.

Several callers called in sharing their unhappiness with the charter schools their children are or were enrolled in. There waas a mother with a special needs child that lost a year academically due to incompetence, a parent that called in complaining that there is no learning, that the school is filthy, a parent that called in to explain how the Ross Charter school is failing. But the answer Peter gave the callers was, "if you don't like the school, you have every right to move them out."

Hey, he is 100% correct. To a point. Yes, if you don't like the school, according to the market philosophy espoused by the charter advocates, you can up and leave. But this can be problematic.

If done in the middle of the year, of course you can enroll your child in the locally zoned school. But what if you don't wish to? I would assume that to enroll your child mid-year in a charter school can be difficult if not impossible.

Also, from the student's viewpoint, this can be a somewhat traumatic experience. Especially if the student has special needs. Change can be tough for kids. Tough when you are changing schools mid-stream.

But why should the parents change schools? Shouldn't the charter schools change to satisfy the parents? The parent, the student are the customers. They are always right.

Parents, even in traditional schools, forge bonds with the teachers, the parents, the students, the entire school community. To say, "just leave," is not what they should have heard, and not the answer.

A school is not a movie you don't like and you can walk out anytime. Being part of a school community is akin to a marriage. You wouldn't tell a husband or a wife they can just up and leave after six months of marriage just because the partner farts in their sleep.

Now, I will admit there is a certain amount if glee hearing these stories, hearing first hand how the shine is coming off the charter school apple. But, what I find so peculiar is the lack of accountability in general about charter schools. It is as if the schools and the people who run them feel they are above the law.

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