In just the past week two parents, one from Camden and one from Delaware Township, have written about their experiences with and thoughts about charter schools .
Yasmin Rios, the mother of two children who attend North Camden Mastery Charter School, movingly writes about her own experience as a student in Camden’s traditional public schools. She never made it past seventh grade, she says, because “I was held back twice and tagged as a trouble maker in middle school. Since I had nowhere to go, I just dropped out. I did get my GED. Then I worked in factories. Now I work as a housekeeper at a local hotel.”
Until this year, my children were going to a public elementary school because it was the closest. The school wasn’t working for them and my children were headed down a path similar to mine. They hated school. Classrooms were out of control and there were no consequences for bad behavior. They didn’t know how to do homework when they got home in the afternoon, and they didn’t want to go to school in the morning. They wanted to give up.
Then this past summer I learned about Mastery’s North Camden Elementary when I saw fliers and people representing the school were on my street talking with the neighbors. I decided to enroll them because I really wanted to try something different for my children. Today, my children can’t wait to get to school. They love their teachers. And I love that there is real structure there, unlike where they came from..
Ms. Rios concludes, “ For now, though, my biggest hope is that my children can continue at Mastery through 12th grade and then go to college if they like. I am also hoping that Mastery can grow so that more children, including some of my nieces and nephews, can get a better education than they are getting now. All Camden children deserve it.”
Another parent, Marjorie Egarian of Delaware Township, responds to an editorial written by Julia Sass Rubin. In that editorial Rubin complains about personal attacks after she was quoted saying that poor parents don’t have the “bandwidth” to thoroughly research school options and that charter schools were skimming kids whose parents, I guess, have more “bandwidth.”
Ms. Egarian responds:
It is disingenuous and misleading to criticize charter schools for attracting a different demographic than the traditional public schools in their district because parents, not charter schools, make the decision to enroll their child. Parents talk with their feet and make the thoughtful and deliberate decision to enroll in a charter (or private school when they can afford it) because their child’s needs aren’t being met. Parents want their children to thrive in school, not just get by. They want their children to feel valued and respected at school and most of all, to love learning and excel… Rather than criticizing charters, let’s look at why parents are enrolling and what nonchartered public schools can do to better meet the needs of students and their families.
Both Ms. Rios and Ms. Egarian, apparently, have “bandwidth” to spare.
For more on “skimming,” see my column that ran yesterday in NJ Spotlight.