I mean finding the right balance between acknowledging the power you and others have (e.g. at the end of the road, you still get to write the progress reports that go in their permanent record), figuring out how far you can go in sharing that power, helping kids decide which battles are worth fighting, helping kids decide how best to fight those battles, helping kids learn the difference between having your say and getting your way, and helping kids learn how to judge when it might make sense to push beyond merely having their say until they actually get their way.
But here’s the deal. If you don’t engage in that struggle to find the proper balance, you’ve got a bunch of students who feel powerless and that they have no voice. That is simply unacceptable – the reality even more so than the feeling.
NYC Educator adds a little perspective about the purpose of charters:
With all their posturing about charters, charters on the whole don’t outperform public schools. With all the advantages of charters, 100% proactive parents, the ability to require things public schools can’t, the ability to “counsel out” troubled kids, the ability to dismiss entire grades that don’t work out, and in the case of Geoff Canada’s schools, the ability to involve ourselves with the parenting of prospective students–public schools and public school teachers would kick their asses. The notion that these folks could deal with 100% of city kids is laughable, as is the notion that these hedge fund folks give a golly goshdarn about the welfare of the kids real teachers serve.
Chris Lehmann ends this beautifully.
Or as I like to say… it’s the difference between education and training. We’re real interested in training the students in the bottom half of the socio-economic spectrum, but I’ve never been sure that we’re really that interested in educating those students.
That’s the problem with teaching kids to think… they just might do just that. And if you’re coming out of the South Bronx, and you learn a lot of critical thinking skills… and you are taught economics and sociology and history… you may come to some conclusions that other people don’t like.
Three comments in the whole post, and three worth acknowledging.
Jose, who’s seen fire and rain …