Advocating improving education for all

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

Being able to improve educational opportunities making it possible for all students to obtain a quality education is a necessary and commendable endeavor, but brings about a lot of different opinions on how to obtain the objective. You have a plethora of pundits representing the academic spectrum who consider themselves well versed on the issue of improving education through years of academic pursuit in the educational arena.

However, you find many teachers currently engaged in the classroom who find the theoretic rhetoric learned from books is often invalid in the daily experiences they tackle in the classroom. Thus, one finds it ironic that you have those writing books and proposing classroom practices never having spent much or any time in a classroom.

There appears to be no panacea for pacifying everyone, especially parents concerned in having their children attain the best education possible to be successful in life. It should be no surprise that most parents want their children to attend schools offering the necessary resources and opportunities to enrich and empower their children to be productive and successful, regardless of the parent’s economic or social standing.

Unfortunately as it stands today, the academic success of too many students is dependent on the location of theirs or their school’s zip code. Affluent communities tend to have better schools than those found in economically disadvantaged communities, causing a disadvantage to some children through no fault of their own.

There remains only one question that should be relevant: “Why can’t all schools be provided the resources and opportunities to be successful despite their location?” While this is a simple question, it seems to open up a firestorm among those whom we the public hold responsible in directing the education for our children. Too often you find those in upper higher educational positions dictating school policies and practices. They are ready to offer different academic solutions, devoid of real equity and any adherence in making all schools successful.

Many parents opting to send their children to charter schools feel they have no other choice, especially when their child was attending an academically failing school. These parents find charter schools as a plausible solution to tackling inadequacies found in their children’s former schools. Supposedly they offer innovative alternatives not practiced in your regular public schools. For these desperate parents, the offered charter schools may be an understandable solution. We all can conclude that one size doesn’t fit all, but the plaguing issue that many taxpayers feel is that charter schools take away money from public schools that could better be served improving public schools for all.

The argument from a vast number of parents is that diverting money away from public schools only weakens public schools and feeds a hidden agenda based on private interest to make money off failing, disadvantaged students. Why then would there be such an interest in the private or business sector to bankroll candidates on school boards promoting more charter schools?

Contrary to what the public is fed, there is no substantial proof that charter schools are, as a whole, successful. In fact, there is more surfacing data that charter schools are offering little improvement or even failing in their quest to help improve academic performance (grades) in a great number of their schools. The public is being sold by many outside the academic arena that charter schools are the wave of the future, perhaps to stimulate others to partake in the capitalization of disadvantaged and academically failing students.

We are being told that charter schools offer more alternatives and choices to parents for their children. But common sense asks me ‘why can’t we just incorporate more innovative options and resources in public schools to combat social and academic inadequacies?’ This may include more experienced teachers mirroring the student population in the school, individual tutors, more licensed school psychologists or counselors, in-depth teams to evaluate behavior or academic deficiencies among students, and more attention to adhering to the cultural and historical significance of ethnic groups. We should even be cognizant in offering vocational training by providing opportunities to students who don’t entertain college as an option for themselves.

Let’s not be naïve. Education is a very lucrative business, and it is not always about all children being offered an opportunity to be successful. Education has become extremely political. There are those waiting in line to capitalize on those less fortunate, which in most cases are children of color, especially African Americans. While this may not have been the original intent, charter schools are now seen by many as nothing short of outsourcing our public schools for profit.

When all is said and done, those truly interested in educational opportunities for all should advocate using taxpayers’ money to promote quality public schools—offering resources and equity to all communities. Some may say charter schools are public schools, but then why divert money from public schools to promote charter schools as better? Why can’t we put the monies, innovative changes, and resources in public schools and make them work for all students?

Maybe attempting to make all public schools comparable to academic magnet schools would be preferable. I would think that any parent would like to feel the school in their community comes with the resources to meet the social and academic needs of their child. Give each public school what it needs to be successful instead of diverting funds and resources to cater to special interest entities ultimately bringing about desegregation.