Charter Schools and the One “Superman”

Many self-appointed experts use charter schools as justification to eliminate tenure, teachers’ unions, and salary schedules. One of the most famous of all charters is called, The Harlem Children’s Zone. The idea is a noble one: Geoffrey Canada started with one square block in Harlem and transformed the education in that area with a charter school. The HCZ now encompasses 97 square blocks in Harlem. This success is based on high-stakes test scores. It gets A LOT worse. The board of HCZ had Canada throw out the entire first class–the high-stakes test scores were not high enough. Talk about high stakes!

 But new graduates of the HCZ are showing promise in the outer world. That’s the real test, isn’t it?

I think Mr. Canada’s current model is one to follow. He focuses on the whole child. Students receive medical care, a safe environment, a suddenly safer neighborhood, parents who have become involved, an 11-month school year, and extended school days. The cost of all of this? About $16,000 per year. That includes bonuses for students, who perform well on multiple measures. It also reflects the costs of longer schooling, and other factors. It does not include the costs for out-of-school things.

See last week’s posting for some perspective.

It’s amazing what happens when you see a child as human and not numeric. Geoffrey Canada’s ideas wouldn’t float here, though.

Today, we find that Texas is one of the very worst states when it comes to financial equity in schools.

The Education Law Center just released a report stating what most of us already knew: rich kids get better schools than poor kids, and Texas is awful on this measure.

This shows something else we already know: it takes money to teach children the right way.

Geoffrey Canada is a superhero because he is not afraid to spend money on kids. It’s too bad this governor and this legislature are more villains than superheroes.

You don’t have to put up with this, though.


About Paul T. Henley, Ph. D.
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