Like so many other school choice supporters I am reading the email messages and blog posts combating the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the American Federation of Teachers attacks on the charter school movement. Some are even using the assaults from these parties to fundraise for their employers. My view is that it is time to stop giving these groups so much attention.
Fortunately for me, I follow many of D.C.’s local charters on Twitter. The messages I’m seeing from schools such as DC Prep PCS, Friendship PCS, E.L. Haynes PCS, and Lee Montessori PCS, just to name a few, are ones of unbounded optimism. The Flamboyan Foundaton is gearing up for another year of helping teachers engage with their student’s parents. This week CityBridge Education is in the midst of re-imaging what classrooms of the future will resemble.
These organizations are closing the academic achievement gap, a feat that only a short time ago could not be put into words because it was so lofty a goal. While others may wish to go back to a simpler period when kids went to their neighborhood schools; we know that many children, particularly those who are poor and those who are minorities, were not served under this structure. We recognize that our only real hope for ending hunger and poverty is the power of public education that we are delivering with schools that make parents the customer.
People can always throw stones at those that disrupt the status quo. But for the heroes that I meet in buildings across this town, those that spend ten or fourteen hours a day at work, that give up their weekends and holidays to build a better future for this country, there is only one way forward. This path reignites when teachers gather for orientation and builds to a crescendo when young people with tremendous smiles on their faces arrive for the first day of school. I will be there so that I can tell the stories of educators who are beating incredible odds. It is frankly their unbelievable drive that keeps me going another day.