Parents of students at the Martin Luther King Saturday School in Moses Lake, WA. It is an education and culture enrichment program, founded by Maryamu and Leon Givens (former First Place teacher and counselor) demonstrate the ability of African American parents and community to be involved in their children's academic and cultural enrichment.
Getting information to parents and communities of color for Initiative 1240 which when passed will enable the creation of 40 public charter schools in Washington state. Public charter schools are created as public schools open to all children and focuses on teaching practices that equalizes academic success for children who have lingered at the bottom rungs of academic outcomes.
What will it take to bring the supporters of charter schools together with African, Asian and Latino Americans? How will they learn all of the elements of a public charter education for their children? It will require intent and purpose on the part of those who believe we should want them. I have been speaking to this for many years and know that voters would vote for public charter schools as a choice, if those who craft the initiatives and legislation include them in the discussions. This can not be done through talking to a few people in any community, black, brown, white or poor. There are many questions about public charters that need and deserve to be answered. Our communities need to know the elements of what makes a public school a charter school. They need to know why it is a choice that needs to exist for parents, teachers and students.
If parents and communities are engaged with getting this initiative from the people I1240 on the ballot and passed, they will be ready to engage in getting a public charter school in their community. I know of several teachers who are ready to teach, parents ready to enroll their children, children ready have a different education experience, and communities ready to support public charters. Every neighborhood, will not have a public charter school only 40 over the course of 5 years will be created.
Getting parents and communities engaged during the campaign to pass this initiative will strengthen the movement and bring along with us, the parents of the children who public charter schools were really created to serve. There is something right about changing the status quo of public education, and it is time for this right thing to move forward. It is not the answer to the our entire public education system but it is a choice. When other choices are created that bring equity and excellence to all children and elevate African American children I will likewise work to make it a reality.
Robin Lake and Betheny Gross at the Center for Recreating Public Education at the University of Washington, edit a report on Charter Schools, Hopes, Fears, and Reality they support my concerns and those who live, learn and teach in communities with high enrollment of poor, brown, and black students. in Chapter 7, Paul Teske authors Creating Savvy choosers: Informing Families on School Choice. Even with all of the best intentions the lack of informed parents and community detracts;
"...however, none of these advantages can play out if parents do not exercise choice or if they make their decisions based on limited or poor information. Unfortunately, low-income and language-minority families tend to fall behind affluent families in their knowledge of and access to school choices. Low-income families especially face more of a burden when choice systems do not provide free transportation to schools."
Chapter 7, continues with the concern of lack of access to information;
"Even when low-income parents are aware of choice, some of the parents may lack the political efficacy to exercise their options. these parents may be concerned that they will not be able to effectively navigate the bureaucratic system, or they may be concerned that the system is rigged against them. these concerns are magnified for families with questionable immigration status."