Last week, the creators of the Serial podcast launched a five-part audio series in partnership with the New York Times. Nice White Parents explores the 60-plus-year relationship between white families and a Brooklyn public school, I.S. 293. The podcast is must listen material for anyone interested in educational equity.
The most recent episode concludes with a perfect encapsulation of the universe of school districts:
Nice white parents shape public schools even in our absence because public schools are maniacally loyal to white families even when that loyalty is rarely returned back to the public schools. Just the very idea of us, the threat of our displeasure, warps the whole system. So separate is still not equal because the power sits with white parents no matter where we are in the system.
This is the great unspoken truth behind those–like Ravitch–who attack charter schools (and private and home schools) while deriving innumerable benefits from a system designed to keep them happy at all costs.
One person I doubt is listening to Nice White Parents for fear of the message landing too close to home is the executive director of NPE, Karen Burris. Last week, NPE released yet another middle school quality “report” on charter schools, Broken Promises. Their latest line of attack is that many charter schools close their doors within ten years of opening.
Never mind that a founding principle of charter schools is that they either perform well or close, rather than becoming generational centers of mis-education. Importantly, if charters don’t attract families to attend, then they must close.
This is a feature, not a bug, underlying the very premise of charter schools. Much more notable are the number of traditional district schools which remain open for decades despite single digit percentages of their students being able to read.
NPE would rather trap families in chronically failing schools than provide them options to send their children where they see fit.
Of course where Burris goes, so goes Ravitch. Credited in the Acknowledgements section is this predictable gem:
This report would not have been possible without the effort and commitment of the Board
of Directors of the Network for Public Education (NPE), with special thanks to Diane Ravitch,
President of NPE. Diane generously gave her support, guidance and advice throughout the
writing of this report.
If readers can get beyond the spelling errors and Microsoft Word formatting, NPE’s methodological rigor will leave you sorely disappointed.
Yep, that’s it for validation, an internet search. Probably Bing no less. By the way, here are the additional (really nice, I’m sure) authors listed, Ryan Pfleger, a Strategic Data Project Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research, and Leigh Dingerson, author of Keeping the Promise? The debate over charter schools.
Which further drives home this revelation from Nice White Parents creator and narrator Chana Joffe-Walt:
Separate is still not equal because the power sits with white parents no matter where we are in the system. I think the only way you equalize schools is by recognizing this fact and trying wherever possible to suppress the power of white parents. Since no one’s forcing us to give up power. We white parents are going to have to do it voluntarily. Which, yeah, how’s that going to happen?