Hipsters for Charter Schools: The Big Lie ‘Togetherness’ Tells About Race and Education
Joshua unveils the rich liberal people who cross the political spectrum to the other side’s philosophy to divest their kids from public schools and into charter schools.
Neighborhood schools have become the bogeyman for all of society’s social failings, particularly from a class of moneyed interests who share both Democratic and Republican affiliations. For Brett and Michelle Pierson and many white parents of their education and class, all the education reform nonsense might “feel right” for minority kids — but just not for their children. The reality is that these power parents, who share a kinship with almost all of L.A.’s economic, political and media elite, do not want to send their own kids to a school that neo-liberal mayors of Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York, who aggressively pursued the reform agenda, created for the working-class kids of color they “served.” All these cities had school superintendents who believed in a different pedagogy for poor kids.
These are schools with ever-growing class sizes, maligned teachers, schools obsessed with standardized test-based “rigor,” stripped of arts, music, field trips, nurses, janitors, counselors, libraries, physical education, integrity, or as Education Secretary Arne Duncan might put it, “air.” They are schools deprived of much-needed physical repairs and teachers deprived of support and training in favor of ill-considered technological quick-fixes (the quicker the better!). Schools that have fallen victim to “market-based” reforms imposed without a shred of evidence of pedagogical effectiveness, except the fantasies of economists and billionaire businessmen who demanded them in the first place.
There is much more that can and has been said about the larger economic and political forces at work in the “reform” movement, and particularly the charter school industry. The sad reality is that almost anything can be imposed on the neighborhood schools of poor kids of color — testing, school closing, inexperienced “revolving door” teachers — because those parents simply do not have the same economic or political clout as their white counterparts. Race and class majority issues are profoundly uncomfortable, to the point of taboo, to speak about in these contexts.
Let us substitute instead, as does “Togetherness,” a code phrase: “test scores.”