Thursday, May 19, 2011

PSC is not “public school choice,”

maybe call it LAUSD “Drastic School Reform”
I think this is more than semantics, but lets review PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE or PUBLIC school choice or PUBLIC SCHOOL choice or public SCHOOL CHOICE/ CHOICE.  No matter how you parse it, PSC is a terrible name for LAUSD's Drastic School Reform program.  Like a Geocities site, PSC has a lot of flash, but no clear objective. A better name might get the lowest performing LAUSD schools a track to get on.

Public - it is not
Anyone participating in PSC complains about the “public” because you can’t create an equitable representation of the public when you segregate and assign the public different values based on one version of school interaction.  Specifically weighting a community vote,  parent vote, faculty vote is fundamentally flawed, though noble in its effort.  Also not everyone likes certain parts of the public that show up to vote and disagree with them, something about democracy or political meddling.   Romer viewed schools as community center where everyone in the neighborhood would have an interest in the school, Cortines/Deasy view of school as a service to students and parents.  I prefer the broader view.

Even if a public vote and superintendedent were to agree on one plan, its is ultimately the Board that has final decision.  The board  is in fact the only equitable representation of the public (albeit at 8% public voter turn out).  This is ultimately flawed too since the impression is that the public vote is the public part of p(ublic)sc.

Public school - it is not

Public schools are funded by the public and controlled by the public through School Site Councils and a public voter approved Board.  Charters do not have to meet this requirement, though they can.  Most of the charters that have chosen to participate in PSC (CMO style charters) receive outside funding that far out paces traditional public schools.  Its great for students to receive additional funding, but from an administrative view, how independent is the school that relies on substantial funding from outside sources?  When ICEF had to get bailout money it came with strings attached that caused it to reshape its operations, in effect outside money changed the policies and not the public.  When it comes to school governance CMO boards are not publicly elected or formed.  How is a charter that has participated in PSC a public school, besides accepting or operating with public money minus the representation.  

School Choice/Choice - It does not promote

As the number of schools going through PSC goes up, the number of school choices for students changes with no safeguards for a positive increase.  If the number of schools operating under a CMO goes up, both school style and distances potentially goes down.  The more schools that teach the Alliance way, the fewer options for parents to choose a different way.  The more CMOs can consolidate their geographical space, then one of the prime benefits of charters go away.  Because there are so many charters spread out over LA and usually attached to community centers like churches and commercial space, charters provide greater localization than public schools alone.  If a CMO closes one of its outside operations to move onto a traditional school space, the distance a parent must travel to access a choice increases.  Prop39 also threatens to increase the distance parents must travel to exercise a choice.  While PSC aims to increase school excellence we need to balance it with an appreciation for access to choices.

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