Charters won't solve fundamental problems

To the editor:

Edward Udel's Oct. 20 op-ed commentary on charter schools provoked a few thoughts about the current trends and direction of public education.

Initially, I found it ironic that the medium for Ed's message is also the crux of the concern regarding literacy; nevertheless, its nature and depth couldn't be addressed by a tweet — just as yesterday's hand holding and leading youngsters to the joys and treasures of reading can't be replaced by handheld and wearable electronic devices that simultaneously shrink our world and capacity to relate to it.

Community is too often composed of selfies and detached followers as gratification must become ever more instantaneous leaving little or no room for appreciation of process, development and interpersonal skills (not to mention setting, character and plot development).

Speaking of development, my take on charters is that the desire of parents to create schools that afford students the best opportunity to achieve a quality public education is laudable. My problem with the method and results is that it is becoming the new version of the separate but equal philosophy in which the only equality is in preparing for and taking the MCAS/PARCC test which perverts real education in both systems.


If the ardor of the charter parents (and governor) could be directed toward BESE and the legislature to identify the core mission, obstacles to its achievement, and fairly raising and appropriating program funding to overcome the obstacles (including poverty, parenting, and readiness), then perhaps we wouldn't have a perceived need for charters. Segregating students and creating systems to get better bubble test scores to convince yourself and the public that it's the right way to go does not portend well for the future of either system's students.

The current selective/exclusive student process and lack of public oversight while syphoning off desperately needed funds for the local public school help secure the illusion that charters need to be expanded and steer us in a wrong and dangerous direction. We need a more unified, comprehensive, fully and fairly funded approach to properly prepare all of our students for the challenges of our fast changing, shrinking and endangered planet.

Whether meeting those challenges involves an Apple or Android for the teacher, becoming a literate, well rounded, civic minded citizen is not achieved by segregation and teaching to the test. I hope Ed will keep contributing thought provoking commentaries and working to try to right the course.

Neil F. Clarke Lee