Saturday, June 9, 2012

Animo Charter -- Troubled in Spirit

Animo Charter Schools, run by Green Dot, have earned a black mark from the local Lennox community.

Two teachers have been dismissed, one summarily the other temporarily, because of administrative leadership, or fiat. Whatever the reasons, the politicization of public education has once again come to the fore, and not for the better.

Animo Leadership Charter High School students who appealed the dismissal of a beloved Social Science teacher circulated petitions to challenge her removal. When school officials allegedly blocked then confiscated these materials two days in a row, another teacher intervened, contacting the local ACLU to investigate the possible infringement of students' rights. This teacher was then placed on administrative leave.

This intermixing of education and politics is the very brew which is causing teachers to rue having ever entered the teaching profession. Students should come to class expecting to learn, not preparing to picket the controversial decisions of school site leadership.

On May 7, Animo students participated in a concerted demonstration in a  local park, one which the principal discouraged, even sending automatic telephone calls to local parents explaining in cautionary tones that they could not guarantee the safety of the protest.

When will the voters in the state of California accept that changing leadership, imposing top-down reforms, and implementing different charter schools will not effect the freedom and innovation desperately needed in our public schools? Charter schools offer a choice, but what do students do it they are forced to choose between traditional schools with a tradition of failure, and charter schools  charted to serve an elite few?

A voucher system not only permits students and families to choose where they enroll, but affords them the consumer power to withdraw their services and their presences, like a boycott, if school leadership engages in unseemly decision-making.

Parents in urban communities deserve schools where teachers and staff must compete for students with a proper education, not contend with political posturing.

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