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Deep-Seated Denial and Ongoing Attempts to Use Our Children as Political Footballs

Howard Eagle

Minority Reporter published a piece on charter schools on February 26, 2024 by education unions supporter, Dr. Shawgi Tell, professor of education at Nazareth University.

Until recently, I had somehow missed Dr. Shawgi Tell's February 26 op ed about charter schools, which is steeped in cunning denial. He begins by repeating his familiar rhetoric regarding the fact that, in New York State, charter schools are legally public schools - somehow represents an "unwarranted claim." It's a fact, period.

His education-union-supporting rhetoric is so contorted, convoluted, and conflated that it's almost ridiculous to dignify it with a response. Yet, in my humble, but unequivocally-staunch and informed view - it's always important to defend urban school parents' (in particular) rights to educational choices for their children - the latter of whom have been failed enmass within decrepit, traditional public schools for centuries-before the first charter school ever existed.

Tell attempts to make an illegitimate 'point' that "charter schools are operated by unelected private persons'' --- as if those who operate traditional public schools are 'elected.' A clear and important distinction to make here is that elected school boards, such as the RCSD Board of Education in particular, which is clearly among the most dysfunctional in the State and nation - do NOT "operate" schools. They oversee schools - just like charter school boards do in the case of charter schools. As it relates to the RCSD, as well as predominantly Black, urban school districts throughout this thoroughly racist, white-supremacist-based nation-state - districts are "operated" by administrative bureaucrats, who in many, if not most cases, are predominantly white suburbanites, and are definitely NOT elected.


The professor also tries to advance the silly argument that charter schools so-called "lie in the private sector [because they] "embrace consumerism, individualism, competition, and the survival-of-the-fittest ethos" - as if decrepit, traditional public schools don't do the exact same thing. They do!


He's correct about one thing, e.g., "under U.S. law, [and in this particular case, under New York State law] something does not become public just because it is called public 50 times a day." Instead, it becomes public because government officials pass Legislation, which makes it LEGALLY PUBLIC, which is true for ALL charter schools in New York State --- period ( see here and here).


Amazingly, Tell argues that "charter schools are not political subdivisions of the state." REALLY??? So, in New York State (as opposed to "Kentucky" or other places that he mentioned), charter schools were brought into existence by State Legislation; they operate in accordance with the rules and regulations spelled out in the same Legislation, and they can be, and sometimes are shut down in accordance with the terms and conditions contained in the same Legislation. Yet, they are NOT "political subdivisions of the state?" Really??? Do tell (no pun intended). How does that work? Of all the numerous wild ideas in the professor's article, the following is the one that really throws me for a loop, e.g., he claims "charter schools have little in common with [traditional] public schools." REALLY??? Well, well, well. That's very telling. WHAT THEY HAVE IN COMMON MORE SO THAN ANYTHING ELSE IS OUR CHILDREN (NOT DR. TELL'S), BUT OURS!!! AND IN BOTH CASES OVERALL (TRADITIONAL AND CHARTERS - IN THE MAIN), ARE DOING A PISS-POOR JOB. Yet who is the professor, or anyone for that matter, to tell mainly Black parents that they should NOT have choices relative to where they want to send their children to school?              

The following quote is completely bogus for at least several reasons: "Privatizers and their political representatives pass laws that say charter schools are public so that they can justify siphoning billions of dollars a year from mostly urban public schools that enroll many poor and low-income minority kids."

WHAT???  First of all, with regard to "passing laws" - there is no lobby group anywhere in the State of New York that's more powerful relative to influencing Legislation than the overwhelmingly white, largely racist, especially regarding top leadership - New York State United Teachers Union, and their locals, and national affiliate American Federation of Teachers (see here and here). No one  "siphons [off more] billions a year from mostly urban public schools that enroll many poor and low-income [so-called] minority [children -- not] kids" --- than largely unproductive teachers' unions, the overwhelming majority of whom are white suburbanites who suck resources out of poor Black communities at the speed of light, for decades, if not centuries (see here  - there’s a feature that allows you to listen to the article at the last link. Click on the link. When the article comes up, to listen, click on this symbol  right above the title). 

As it relates to the Dr. Tell's charge regarding "fueling the school-to-prison pipeline" - traditional public schools were "suspending and expelling Black students at very high rates, thereby fueling the school-to-prison pipeline" for at least 100 years before the first charter school was ever established.

With regard to academic performance, in general, we already know that both charter schools and traditional public schools are failing huge numbers of OUR children - period. We also know that the RCSD (for example) is one of, if not the worse performing school district in all of New York State, and clearly one of the worse in the nation --- with Buffalo, Syracuse, Yonkers, Utica, and New York City not far behind, which is the reality that gave rise to public charter schools in the first place (see here and here). And clearly, if there is "widespread fraud, waste, and corruption in the charter school sector" - they don't have anything on the RCSD in that particular regard (see here and here and here).

The bottom line is that when people like Dr. Tell continuously and exclusively engage in narrow charter vs. traditional public school debates and arguments - it only reinforces that they are not really concerned about OUR children (since both entities are failing huge numbers). Instead, the focus is on their own narrow, self-serving, political agendas, and often their own economic well being. Otherwise, they would be calling for a serious education MOVEMENT on the part of everyone in the field - period. To them, OUR children are like political footballs (see here).


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