Mississippi debates charters, race, jobs

If Mississippi allows charter schools, blacks fear losing jobs and clout, notes the Hechinger Report. Currently, the state’s charter law is “so restrictive that no charters have opened,” but that’s expected to change this year.  Republicans control the legislature, some Democrats will vote for a new charter bill and the governor “has made the issue one of his top priorities.” Most black legislators are skeptical.

Mississippi State Sen. (David) Jordan, a retired public-school science teacher, said he fears charters partly because they could bring more white out-of-state educators to Mississippi who won’t be able to relate to the children there. “Teachers who come in claim they can do a yeoman’s job,” he said. “But I don’t think someone can come from Illinois and do a better job with the kids of the Mississippi Delta than the teachers who are already here.”

Jordan also worries that charters could mean a loss of black power and leadership in rural communities where the black community fought long and hard to claim top positions in the schools.

In the Mississippi Delta, nearly 90 percent of children in public schools are black. “In rural counties, the school districts are the main employer,” said Mike Sayer, senior organizer at Southern Echo, a black leadership organization that opposes charters.

In New Orleans, several very successful charters were started by veteran black educators, says Kenneth Campbell, president of the pro-charter Black Alliance for Educational Options.

 New Orleans has also attracted national charter-school networks such as the Knowledge is Power Program and Future Is Now Schools; and most of the school leaders recruited by the charter “incubator” New Schools for New Orleans have come from out of town.

. . . Before Katrina, New Orleans had one of the highest percentages of black educators of any city in the country. But starting in 2007 that percentage began to drop steadily, to 63 percent during the 2007-08 school year, and 57 percent the next year, according to data from the Louisiana Department of Education.

Test scores are going up in New Orleans. Parents are more satisfied with the city’s public schools. But some “worry about the psychological effect on black children who come to equate both education and authority with whiteness,” wrote Times-Picayune columnist Jarvis DeBerry.

If 57 percent of educators are black, why would black kids equate education and authority with whiteness?

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Comments

  1. Parents who are satisfied with their public school(s), won’t send their kids to charters. Might the public schools do something (anything) to make sure parents are happy with them? Maintain school safety and order?(including removal of dangerous and chronic disruptors) Separate kids by level/instructional need? Offer better curriculum, such as Core Knowledge and Singapore Math?

    In my book, the edworld’s stated worries about charters taking their students, especially the motivated and/or able one, only highlights the fact that the edworld is unconcerned with the needs of those kids/families. The comments from charter opponents in this article specifically couch their objections in terms of black political power and adult employment. It reminds me of a comment from a DCPS teacher/union official; “I’ll start paying attention to students and parents when they start paying union dues.” I don’t think MS has the union issue, but the adult-employees needs trumping the kids’ need is the same, and it’s not pretty.

  2. That an educator would show more concern for anything other than schooling is disturbing. I realize that there are more concerns out there, but to argue against improving schools because blacks may not benefit or will lose employment, is rather despicable.

  3. “Show me where blacks have been hurt by school choice. (not talking about black teachers)”

    Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how’d you like the play? You hurt black teachers, you’re not leaving much of an opportunity for blacks overall, since it’s the biggest career path for blacks.

    “If 57 percent of educators are black, why would black kids equate education and authority with whiteness?”

    The kids see the teachers becoming more and more white in just two years. At the same time, they are being inundated with propaganda at how much better the schools are getting. You really have to ask that question?

    Also, it’s clear the New Orleans population isn’t the same population as before Katrina, and as I think you’ve pointed out, many of the best schools are highly selective and preserved primarily for whites. Most of the weak New Orleans kids are now scattered throughout the south, many in Houston.

    • That is funny, Cal.

      So now it’s not just charters that are selective but the entire city of New Orleans? Pretty pathetic, Cal.

      Not satisfied with lying about the selectivity of charters you seem to feel the need to bolster that threadbare lie with a bit of overt racism and the patronizing assumption that poor parents are too stupid to make good choices for their kids.

      But the joke’s on you because poor parents don’t have to make good choices in order to get a better education for their kids then the rotting hulk of an organization to which you’d consign their kids. *Any* choice they make leads to a better education for their kids because if they chose poorly at first they can simply choose again. If they were unlucky enough to choose a lousy charter they’ll do a better job the next time.

  4. lightly seasoned says:

    First, I don’t think you’ll see charters in the rural Delta. The population density isn’t there to turn a profit. Secondly, in a place so unbelievably poor, taking any job away from the local population and handing it to some outsider is going to hurt the community. The Delta is the poorest place I have ever seen. Black people are living in shacks with caved-in roofs.