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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

For all

People tend to have pretty specific ideas about what life will be like when they have kids.  You know, their kid will never have a tantrum.  Their kid will eat whatever the parents eat and be happy.  Their kid will sleep through the night as a baby.  Their lives will hardly change at all.  And then the baby comes, and all bets are off.

We all do things we thought we would never do when we have kids.  We imitate a choo choo train just to get someone to take a bite of peas.  We sleep on the floor of our kid's bedroom because he is having night terrors.  We give in to tantrums sometimes because we're simply too exhausted to say no for what feels like the hundredth time.  we celebrate milestones, and we mess up, big time.  We try to make up for the mistakes.  Truly, we are all just doing the best we can at this whole parenting thing and hoping that our kids turn out to be halfway decent members of society.

In the end, we all want what is best for our children.  Lately, though, I feel like that is probably not enough.  Of course we should do what we feel is best for our families, but I also think we need to do what is best for all kids in all families.  We can't get into the minds of all parents to know exactly what that may be, but one thing I know is that the existence of charter schools doesn't benefit the masses.

C'mon, you know me.  You knew at some point I had to write about the ridiculousness.  We live in a country that was built on liberty and justice for all, and, quite frankly, that ain't happening.

One huge myth about charter school is that they are all inherently better than public schools.  First of all, charter schools are technically public schools.  However, you can try to get into a charter school, but it doesn't have to take you.  Charters can't discriminate, of course, but they can choose to deny an application based on test scores or special needs.  Just because you want your kid to go to a certain school doesn't mean he or she will be chosen.  One basic tenet of charter schools is parental involvement.  If a parent can't volunteer the number of hours a charter school demands, that's a problem.  Some parents have multiple jobs or childcare conflicts, and some kids may have foster parents or unique caregiver situations that make volunteering almost impossible.  Whether the volunteer aspect of the school means to be exclusive or not, it affects those children who are often most in need.  Second, teachers in some charter schools don't necessarily have to have certification.  They can be experts in their field, but they haven't gone to school to learn how to teach.  That matters.    I mean, I might be a Harry Potter aficionado, but that doesn't make me Albus Dumbledore.  Third, many charter schools are publicly funded but privately operated.  It's basically a corporate takeover of our public school system.  They take the public money, weed out the "bad" kids to lower class sizes, and end up looking like saviors to people who don't know how they really work.

Listen, no one in education thinks public schools are perfect: they're not.  But the public schools aren't irrevocably broken, either.  If we could stop throwing money at alternatives and start working on the public school system itself, we would be off to a pretty good start.  We need to return to respecting teachers and all they do, and we need to keep our strong ones so they can mentor the new, young teachers who have lots of enthusiasm but not a lot of experience.  I know young teachers like this: they are out there, and they are hungry to make a difference.  We need politicians who will stand up for our schools and demand whatever it takes to strengthen them.  Continuing to defund true public education is like taking away the only lightbulb in a windowless room: it ends up leaving us all in the dark.  We must worry about ALL children, and if you're not worried, I'm concerned.  As cheesy as it sounds, the children ARE the future.  The nurses and doctors who will care for us in the coming years are in elementary school now.  The future teachers, plumbers, police officers, computer programmers, mail carriers, parents, contractors, farmers, and chefs are all in need of our help to fight for what's right and what's just.

Vouchers are not the way to make our nation great; they are just another way to tear us apart.  It's time to unite and prove who we really are as a people.  Continue to do what is right for your family, but don't forget to do what's right for our nation and its future, too.  

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