I want to be clear: not all charter schools are necessarily bad. But people who think they are the panacea need look no further:
JT is a high school student attending a charter school in Flint, Michigan. He survived cancer at a young age, and has decided to give back: he is growing out his hair to donate it to “Locks for Love”, a group that takes human hair and turns it into wigs for cancer patients who lose their own. As a requirement for the donation, the hair has to be grown out so that enough can be cut,and then used ot make the wig.
The problem is that JT’s public charter school has strict rules regarding the care of hair, and growing it out is a violation. JT and his mom have explained that this is temporary, and for an excellent cause.
Charter schools, however, are not beholden to anyone. They are private companies that enter into contracts with local municipalities, most often to raise test scores. That means that being compassionate and supportive of students is entirely optional. The result: he was asked to cut his hair, with refusal meaning suspension. The young man, to his credit, stood his ground.
There are many bad public schools out there. Imagine this happened at a public school. If the board decided to support a suspension for doing this, the Board members may have an uphill battle at the polls. The community has recourse. In the case of a charter school, the public has little recourse.
I hope the kid get it through to the school’s administration: its important to follow rules, but never blindly … and rules without common sense exceptions makes the community one that bows to extremism.