Public Schools in America never claimed they were perfect. Public School Educators never claimed their skill sets were complete. Public Schools were never broken and its teachers never stagnant in their effectiveness. These are the claims, accusations and aberrations of the Education Reformers led by the likes of Michelle Rhee. Advertisements such as these are a corporate necessity in a capitalist society to gain access to public education dollars to lure patrons in an effort to attain massive profits. If Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were alive today he would be proud of the racial progress made from the time he attended a segregated public school in Georgia; but he would be appalled at the idea of giving public money to private corporations to educate children for a profit.
Charter Schools are able to pick and choose their students because they are not able to properly educate individuals with special needs. Charter Schools are not located in every neighborhood; therefore they're not available for every student. Charter Schools are dependent upon proving their successes and advertising the results in positive way to attract perspective clients. Therefore, testing is the driving force of its curriculum, its teaching and its learning. Successful student learning occurs through collaboration not competitive testing. A new "segregation" is underway in our nation and we need to stand guard against it. Students are being separated in the twenty-first century not by race but by cost-efficiency, testing and residency. Content of character has given way to achievement on standardized assessments. In 1947 Dr. King wrote:
"...that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the ligitimate goals of his life... The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals (Purpose of Education. Dr. ML King, Jr. 1947)."
The values that Dr. King lived by, promoted and wanted present in the UNited States are being legislated out of our classrooms by providing tax-dollar-funding to private companies to educate students that are not held to the same standard as it's public school counterparts: to teach ALL students equally. Effectively our nation will, if this trend continues, unravel all of what Dr. King worked his short life to accomplish; his "dream" will have been undermined.
Sadly, the State of Michigan has turned to this mind set; it embraces it and it promotes it. This is evidenced by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder who led legislation to gain unlimited numbers of charter schools and by the Detroit News Op Ed authors that publish one-sided stories on the successes of students in segregated learning climates. Charter Schools are private schools that use public dollars; it is segregated education and it is wrong.
It falls upon us to ensure that the 2013 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday isn't an ironic tribute to an iconic man. Promoting Charter Schools and standardized testing is not what Dr. King had in mind when he dreamed of a better, integrated America. He dreamed of an America that was reformed from within by public education. Let us not celebrate a nations public education system being reformed from the outside-in by Corporate America. We, the American People, are the engine for reforming society and only through equal, collaborative public education will quality learning and teaching mastery prosper.
Strauss, Valerie. Martin Luther King, Jr.: In His Own Words. The Answer Sheet. The Washington Post. 17 Jan. 2011The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute Website. Stanford University
The Detroit News. Editorial: Michigan's Charters make the Grade. 20 January 2013.
Governor Rick Synder. Reinventing Michigan. Charter School reform Bill. 20 December 2011.