Charter schools keep families in the city

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To keep families in the center city, offer them real school choice. It's working in Cleveland:

When Citizens' Academy [a Cleveland charter school] surveyed its parents, more than 40 percent said the school -- consistently among the state's top performers -- played an integral role in their decision to remain in Cleveland. To Perry White, the East Side charter school's director, that means successful schools are as much an economic development issue as an education issue.

"To stem the exodus of families from Cleveland, we must leverage our best public schools -- charter and district -- as catalysts for creating neighborhoods of choice," White said. "The future of our city and region depends on it."

Josipa Peric can vouch for that. Peric, who works as a waitress, has a fourth-grader at Citizens'. Another son graduated from the school two years ago and was awarded a scholarship to attend University School, a prestigious private school.

Peric said she and her husband had planned to leave Cleveland and move to Eastlake with other Croatian immigrants. Through friends, they discovered Citizens' and transferred their two sons there from Catholic school. Now, they plan to stay in town and open a bakery here.

"We were planning to move, too, but the school is great," Peric said. "They are like family to us."

That kind of symbiotic relationship between parents and schools, which died in some neighborhoods decades ago, could be the greatest legacy of the charter movement.

When will Tulsa's business leaders -- people with an economic interest in the prosperity of the inner city -- start putting the pressure on our public school system to be more hospitable to charter schools?

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In last week's Urban Tulsa Weekly column, I wrote about how school choice could be used, as it has been in Milwaukee, to attract and retain families with children in the older parts of Tulsa, specifically the area served by Tulsa Public Schools. (I als... Read More


S. Lee Author Profile Page said:

Wikipedia has what appears to be a useful article on the subject.
While I am not firmly committed for or against, my inclination is to be skeptical. I'm convinced that educational quality is closely tied to the child's home environment, and I'm doubtful that there is much a charter school can do about that. If a parent's interest were primarily in what is of most benefit to MY kids (too bad about yours), I can see where the idea of a charter school would have its appeal. If a person's interest was directed more at what ails education in general (i.e. ALL kids), it seems to me that the main area of focus would be early childhood intervention.

Although "early childhood intervention" sounds pleasantly innocuous and vague, I think it is understood that it is society attempting salvage kids that were born to parent(s) who are incapable of caring for a pet rock. (To a significant degree, the result of casual sex being more acceptable and normal than smoking cigarettes ... Bless that sweet Jamie Lynn Spears.)

A practicing psychologist once told me that a child's values are mostly set for life by the time the child reaches about eight years of age. With that in mind, my inclination is to suggest that early childhood intervention is a better focus of education attention -- essentially the public schools trying to function as a parent.

Just so folks know, I don't suggest this because I'm all altruistic (I'm not), but the pragmatist in me says: You can pay a little bit to deal with it early, or you can pay a lot more to deal with it later. I'll take the early.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on January 30, 2008 5:43 PM.

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