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January 18, 2003

Educational Hell

This article about the hell that inner city schools have become (from the perspective of a young TEACH FOR AMERICA graduate) is getting a lot of play. But, it ends on a high-note:

I know for sure that inner-city schools donít have to be hellholes like Emery and its District of Columbia brethren, with their poor administration and lack of parental support, their misguided focus on childrenís rights, their anti-white racism, and their lawsuit-crazed culture. Some of my closest TFA friends, thrilled to be liberated from the D.C. system, went on to teach at D.C. charter schools, where they really can make a difference in underprivileged childrenís lives. For example, at Paul Junior High School, which serves students with the same economic and cultural background as those at Emery, the principalís tough approach to discipline fosters a serious atmosphere of scholarship, and parents are held accountable, because the principal can kick their children back to the public school system if they refuse to cooperate. A friend who works at the Hyde School, which emphasizes character education (and sits directly across a field from Emery), tells me that this charter school is quiet and orderly, the teachers are happy, and the children are achieving at a much higher levelóso much higher that several of the best students at Emery who transferred to Hyde nearly flunked out of their new school.

The problem with this statement is that charter schools probably attract the best students and most involved parents already. The parents that don't care if their kids are kicked back to the regular system are the ones that wouldn't send their kids to the charter schools in the first place-removing one of the major difficulties. I am curious if charter schools can change the character of a random sample of children-and so we might know that the lessons learned can be applied generally rather than to a particular subset.

Posted by razib at 07:59 PM

That's the constant criticism of charter schools.

My short response is--at least you get the students who want to learn out of the crappy public schools.

Posted by: David at January 19, 2003 10:02 AM

Seems to me charter schools are doing something important; they're allowing some of the kids to get a good education. Among all of the bad things in Joshua's article, the thing that stood out for me was the way the system permits a few bad oranges to ruin the educational opportunity for all the kids in the class.

I'm sure it's a question of degree, but throwing the worst kid in each class out of school entirely would surely have influenced the rest to behave. That's the way the system worked in the old days, before "social promotion".


Posted by: ole at January 20, 2003 12:06 PM