As high school graduation pictures fill Facebook and Twitter bursting with jubilant students and their parents celebrating successfully completing four years of attendance of a school of choice combined with the realization that the next step is college for the first time in a family's history, the charter school movement lets out a collective sigh. For another year has gone by without a resolution to the funding inequity that plagues these alternative schools that educate 44 percent of all public school students in the world's leading capital city.
The foremost candidates for Mayor, Councilwoman Bowser and Councilman Catania, are making the rounds speaking at many of the graduation ceremonies. At the same time that they are given a forum in front of crowded auditoriums not one word is uttered about the disparity that these politicians perpetuate. It is as if the advice they are giving these young people filled with hope is that life will be unfair and there is nothing that grownups will do about it, so do not expect anything to change.
It is about as far as you can get from the vision of the founders of so many of the high performing charters giving out diplomas in the month of June. These individuals had the notion that they could create schools that would permanently reverse the pervasive environment of exceedingly low expectations that uniformly characterized attending a DCPS institution. The charters these heroes created would not only have textbooks on the first day of school, but the water fountains and bathrooms would be functional, and it would actually be safer to come to these facilities then be out on the street facing a world of gangs, drugs, and violence. On top of that, to the shock of many parents who knew nothing better, actual learning would take place in the classroom. The kids would be told that they would go on to attend college, words that had up until this time never come out of the mouths of adults. Unbelievably, as a life preserver, scholarships were provided that for many pupils meant that they would not have to spend a dime during their time attending universities like Harvard, Brown, Princeton, and Yale.
Education reformers feel like the Adequacy Study, so seriously assembled by Deputy Mayor for Education Smith, never existed. Writing flows from publications as if from an eternal fountain regarding proposed changes to school feeder patterns, something the charter movement finds non applicable. Yet when someone is brave enough to ask if justice will one day be brought to charters, the question is answered by an interminable silence.
Numerous folks know better. In our lifetime civil rights were extended to many for whom inequality was a way of life. That is why, unbelievably, there is still optimism that someone or a group of people will finally fix what so desperately needs to be corrected. Until that time all we can do is to take no action to disrupt the joy of our high school graduates.