a charter school lets kids down

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/school-suspends-cancer-survivior-teen-over-hair-plans-160537479.html

 

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.

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2 Responses to a charter school lets kids down

  1. Beth says:

    My older cousin, Matt, is an attorney in Chicago. (now, now, Tom easy…wait…) Anyway he has been known to rally for the causes of exposing political corruption, particularly in the case of disparity and push for Charter Schools in CPS. I think I talked to you about him before.
    While, I’d hope this kid and the school were able to come to some reasonable agreement (certainly after the negative press) on the hair issue, I’m glad it came to light. It shows exactly what most charter schools do. Imagine, they are willing and able to suspend a kid just for growing his hair, what chance does a kid with any sort of ADHD characteristics really have of being allowed to stay there? (Even if they were lucky enough to win the lottery to go there in the first place) I would like for the geniuses at this charter school to tell us all what information they have that makes one’s hair length an indicator of educational performance. Even my completely private school, where we had uniforms, knew to draw the line at arguing about hair (maybe it’s different for girls).
    Just stupid.
    As far as the public having very little recourse, Charter schools can’t be allowed to come in to a community and essentially take over the public school system if the public are vigilante. They elect the public officials (board members, alderman, mayors, etc.) and need to hold them publicly accountable for what goes on within that system; Especially when tax dollars are being diverted to these schools.

    • teganx7 says:

      Beth, you have hit it on the nose. Some (hardly all … I won’t even say most) supporters of charter schools are trying to find their ways around the laws that govern public schools. Some want to use this as a means to inject their religious views (not that they can mandate attending church services, but they absolutely can cut things out of the curriculum: evolution, the Civil Rights Movement, science in general, etc). Others simply want to get away from students who are different (while acceptance can’t be race based, there are always ways to arrange for this). Certainly, anyone with a learning disability can also be denied placement. That certainly isn’t every charter school, but I think too many people think a charter school is a public school with non-union teachers, and the truth is simply not that. Charter schools are companies who are primarily interested in their bottom line, and not student learning.

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