The arguments on both sides are starting to become much more nuanced, which I appreciate. Tawnell already gave you the professional breakdown. Here's my take as a teacher, constituent, enjoyer of debates.
My general disposition could be summed up by an uplift parent sitting behind me, "I think we need to hear both sides."
Tawnell accurately described the situation as tense from the beginning. A passionate man, who later apologized, attempted to get all uplift supporters removed from the public community meeting before it even started. "You bogart [our community] because you're backed by millionaires," he said to the uplift folks sitting in the front row. This captured the deep feelings of mistrust that have been brewing for decades. The response from an uplift parent that they are "not against [him], they are trying to do what's right for kids" is something that certainly everyone thinks they are doing.
Dr. Blackburn, Commissioner Price, a few councilpersons, and a candidate for Judge looking for votes were all in attendance, as were channel 5 and 8.
The pastor kicked off the night and Joyce followed, both laying out their arguments against charter schools in their district. They were followed by a Carter alumni leader and parent of a DISD student. I'll list out the arguments in the order they were presented.
"Charter Schools don't help us"
The pastor speaks to some data that he had about uplift schools being no more academically successful than DISD schools, sparking an outburst from uplift supporters. The uplift folk agreed to be quiet and respectful while the speakers aired their grievances. The larger point is that his belief is that we shouldn't be bringing in more schools if the date isn't conclusive that they are better.
"They steal our best kids"
This is an argument that was reinforced later by the DISD parent, mother, and Carter alum. Steal is a strong word, but I do agree that charter schools attract parents that are tired with DISD and don't want their kids in the kind of environment their local DISD campus provides. They don't want their kids at campuses without consequences. They want to insulate them from fights, bathroom gambling, and anything else they feel is detrimental to the long term success of their child.
"Taxation without representation"
The argument here was that there should be a public voice governing public dollars. The complaint over Uplift having a board of directors that isn't elected is an interesting one. I can understand the fear of their ability to act without consulting the surrounding community. Some would say this makes them more effective by insulating them from politics and others would say it makes them tyrannical. This caught my eye because we're discussing the enlightenment in class, that's all.
"Twenty seven thousand kids could be in the Dallas Independent School District but aren't."
This is the money argument. DISD gets paid per student and the more kids that go to charters, the less money DISD gets. Some parents would argue that DISD losing money is a good thing because it hasn't exactly done anything with the money it has, others would say that taking funding from DISD makes it impossible for DISD to do its job and do right by our kids.
"If charters are so good, why aren't they in North Dallas?"
Also an interesting argument. The quick response would be the vast number of private schools. The other would be that the claim is inaccurate with Fusion Academy and Uplift WIliams being above 30, but there is some truth to the lack of charters in the areas of Dallas closest to 635.
"You can over saturate a market." "No charters, not here."
These two arguments go pretty well with the one preceding them. This is a more nuanced argument than the blanket "no charters" argument that has been penned to Joyce and those who she has organized against uplift. Charters don't have to be built and concentrated in the south. Yes, 27k students attend charter schools with many others fighting to get in, but not all of those live in the communities in which the schools are built. Some would say that most are not from those communities. I wonder if some of these schools were built in North Dallas if there would still be the same demand. Would kids still be able to get there? Probably.
She specifically mentioned traffic along Camp Wisdom and listen, that traffic is a pain. It has been for a while. My long time barber and vet were right there on Camp Wisdom and 67. That whole street gets backed up both ways all the way to 35 and the other direction. I'm less persuaded by this only because I'm focusing on students and not businesses, but I saw a business closing last night because of traffic related issues. There may be something to this, maybe not. I'm not an urban planner or an economist.
Carter alumni leader said her son is at the top of his class but was rejected from charters for fighting too much.
Charters use DISD as a dumping ground for students they deem undesirable. I'm pretty sure everyone uses DISD for that. I've had students fresh out of jail, students kicked out of OTHER DISD SCHOOLS, and I've had plenty of students that are simply not ready to be in the grade that they're in. This isn't a charter problem, this is an every school problem. Schools struggle to create the kind of environment that is conducive to learning. The easiest way to do that is to remove students that are in the way of that. I'm less sympathetic to this but it'd be nice if DISD had programs equipped to support the social and emotional health of our young men and women that are chronically disruptive or fight. Teaching kids to express themselves without going to extremes is the solution, not sending all disruptive and violent children to the same place.
It's hard not to listen to these speakers and not find truth in what they are saying. I left and visited my mother who lives just minutes from the church where the meeting was held and asked her what she thought. She's a Joyce Foreman fan. She's a Carter alum herself. She made the decision to keep me away from DISD. That said, she also doesn't like it when she feels people are being forced to make certain decisions about their kids. This is my community. My grandmother rests in Laurel Land as does her mother before her. One day mine will do the same. I support charter schools because I have seen what happens in their classrooms. I have friends that work there. I've had kids that have come to me from those schools and weep at how much better it is.
This is becoming more of a zoning issue than anything else. If this campus isn't built, it threatens to overcrowd the other campuses. Some things are worth the fight and some aren't. Perhaps looking for another location makes more sense. One think I would caution everyone in this debate against is assuming all charter schools are good and the same. I think uplift in particular is good. That doesn't I universally and unflinchingly endorse all charters. They will also never be a replacement for our traditional public schools.
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