Last week we received word that Seven Oaks Classical School was denied a charter. Here was our ICPE-Monroe County chairperson, Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer's response:
We are very happy that Seven Oaks Classical School was denied a charter in our area. We are grateful to a community that would circle the wagons around the thousands of children in MCCSC to retain the funding for ALL children. The eloquence and passion for public education reflected in the letters and public statements at the public hearing for both the Seven Oaks school as well as the Green School/Green Meadows school last year was impressive and moving.
Here's the thing.
We have to stop going on the defense. We need to be proactive.
There are legitimate reasons that people are feeling upset or disconnected from our public school system. There are issues to address regarding the focus on tests, the issues of equity from school to school, the concern for developmentally appropriate practice, the silencing of teacher voices, the dismissal of parent voices, the lack of evaluation regarding decisions on policy or programming and the lack of collaboration or transparency in that decision-making process, etc. The lack of questions asked.
This is why we must be informed about our school board candidates. This is why we must work to elect those who we feel would address these concerns.
We are all busy.
You do have the time to write a letter to the editor to raise awareness. You do have the time to write an email to your circle of influence (family and friends) to explain why you will be voting. It isn't rude to put it out there. It's a conversation we need to be having. You must have an hour of time to go door to door (the real way to reach voters) and pass out flyers for a candidate. Surely on election day you and a friend can stand at the polls and ask voters: "Do you need any information about school board candidates?"
EVEN MORE IMPORTANT is the electing of state representatives who will also listen to this rising tide of anger and frustration from parents and citizens regarding the attack on our public schools and our teachers.
There is only so much a school board member can do to address the fixation on data and test scores when the LAW requires that that be the ONLY measure of "success." If uninformed Joe Public sees a scarlet letter on a school building of "F" he or she may not want to move to that neighborhood, put up a business in that community or even have their children attend that school.
This grading system SERVES A PURPOSE.
What does your state legislature suggest as the answer to the issue of "failing schools"-- a myth perpetrated by this unjust and punitive system of labeling?
Here's their solution: take a voucher and run. Open a new charter school if the market is ripe. Demand more testing to "prove" that these kids and teachers are worthy of the paltry funding they make them jump through hoops to attain.
Do a business model cost-benefit analysis on schools...break it all down to data. Offer higher standards. Get a competitive market out there where schools compete for the best possible product = education.
THESE ARE CHILDREN. There should be no 7 year-old having to prove him or herself worthy of a quality education. There should be no 5 year-olds on the losing end of a competition for educational opportunity.
WE NEED CHANGE IN POLICY. IN ORDER TO DO THAT, WE NEED A CHANGE IN POLICYMAKERS.
This supermajority has to go. Glenda Ritz was symbolic of Indiana's desire to support public education and teachers. But you have to do more than put a symbol in office when the state legislature and governor are thwarting her efforts at every turn. You have to vote them out.
In order for that to happen, you have to write those letters. You have to give some money. You have to go to the campaign headquarters and make phone calls.
No one is doing it for you. Three people volunteering does not a movement make.
This week, this weekend... you have to help. You have to carve out the time and help.
Otherwise.. you are enabling profiteers to use your children as pawns in a money-making game and even if you can save your own kids, those kids in "those" schools with "those" parents are going to grow up someday and they will be the ones you expect to help make this world a better place.
It takes a village.