Sometimes comments to editorials like this (see previous post) are just as illuminating as the editorials themselves. Shortly after NJ Spotlight published Mr. Frazier’s editorial, Julia Sass Rubin of Save Our Schools-NJ chimed in. (Her organization is currently lobbying hard for a charter moratorium bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Mila Jasey.) Her quick response may have been prompted by an allusion in Mr. Frazier’s editorial:
If we were to believe the critics of public charter schools, I would be singled out as a parent misinformed and misled by charter schools. I am not a parent misinformed, misled, or hoodwinked. I am a parent who supports schools that will provide my children with a quality education.
To whom and to what is he alluding? Here’s my guess: last fall Ms. Rubin made this condescending remark to the Star-Ledger: “People in abject poverty don’t have the bandwidth to even evaluate charter schools. . . .It’s just not going to be high on their list.” (A Newark mom shot back in a subsequent piece, “Who is Julia Sass Rubin and what does she have against my kids?”)
Hence, Ms. Rubin’s reply to Mr. Frazier in the comments section of his editorial:
This editorial is part of a public relations campaign by the NJ Charter School Association to degrade local public schools, particularly in low-income communities of color, and to paint charter schools as a silver bullet. The reality is very different…
The Charter School Association is hiding behind charter school parents to masque an aggressive effort to grow market share at the expense of local public schools. The Association has been working closely with the Christie Administration to dramatically expand the number of charter schools without requiring any local approval or oversight. Few Newark residents know that almost a third of all publicly-funded Newark seats are now at charter schools, reflecting a 45% growth rate in just the last couple of years…This truly is a social justice issue, as a small group of edupreneurs work with the Christie Administration to grow their revenue stream at the expense of local public schools
When most people are in a hole they stop digging. But there’s Ms. Rubin, shovel in hand, indefatigably digging away. How insulting is it to suggest that Mr. Frazier is a pawn of a conspiracy to “degrade public schools, especially in low-income communities of color”? How elitist is her dismissal of his experience as a father determined to provide his children with an effective public education?
Never mind. According to Ms. Rubin, Mr. Frazier just doesn’t have the bandwidth.
Ryan Hill, head of KIPP NJ writes back, “Newark parents are both capable of making smart choices for their kids, and of writing op-eds without some massive conspiracy. This piece by an incredible Newark father is evidence of that. We need to honor families and the choices they make, not vilify them as pawns who don’t understand the needs of their kids. They know their kids better than anyone does, and they make the best choices for them, when politicians and special interest groups don’t get in their way.” Another commenter says, “The fact that Mr. Frazier, an African American man from Newark, NJ, and can make his own informed choice for his children is beyond your narrow realm of understanding.”
Ms. Rubin backtracks a tiny bit, saying that she didn’t mean to imply that Mr. Frazier didn’t write his own editorial. But no one can doubt her adamance that she’s in a better position to dictate school choice for Newark families than actual Newark families. Talk about chutzpah.