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Goddamn charter schools all to HELL and here’s to radical socialist feminism

October 25th, 2007

Here I go again, on my way to alienating even more people. Don’t care, will blog.

The mis-named Activistas over at UrbanMamas are having Big Meaningful Talk re: Charter Schools. Yadda yadda blip. I must tell you, UrbanMamas has never really “spoken” to me. It’s all, you know, a certain type of mother, who dresses her kid in cunning little hats and stripedy clothes and has people over for brunch.

I am not that kind of mama. Although I do knit. Don’t ask me to fix you brunch because it is not going to happen. Anyway.

The whole charter school thing is just headaching me, and it’s really pitting us all against each other. (So how am I helping? I will mix the pot, you watch.)

You know — we’re all getting defensive about our choices, and wanting the best for our kids, and “Don’t you want the best for your little woogums? Don’t you?” Well, Jesus H. Christ of course I do. I am tired of trying to explain myself all the time, and hearing people explain themselves when really all I want to be doing is going for a nice walk or working in my yard in the sunshine, or maybe trying to sell a frickin’ manuscript. Again.

I have things I’d rather be doing, is my point.

Activistas? Hardly. I don’t see you as being on the frontlines, bitches. I don’t see myself as being (physically) on the frontlines, as far as my volunteer work goes, my commitment to making the world a better place, and I’m in this political shit pretty deep at this point.

How are you being radical, will you please tell me? Will you move me? You do not move me. You make me run the other direction, so I am moving, but I am not being moved.

You are not being radical enough.

(College days, my friend H’s housemate, late one night, returning home muddy and elated.

“Where have you been?” their other housemate asked.

“Swinging from trees in Forest Park,” he said. “It was fucking great.”

“Jesus, you’re crazy! It’s after dark.”

“You gonna live life, or you gonna be a pussy?”)

I want to live life, babes. I have a pussy, but I am no pussy. My writing? My writing is radical. I make radical look good. My writing, as I become older, becomes crazier, and this thrills me. I am coming into my own and I love that.

Good God, a mom from school left me a message once (this was a few years back) saying, “You seem like the kind of Republicans who…” She was joking, only not really, and it blew me away because politically? I’m not just a feminist, I’m a radical socialist feminist. I’m fairly close to Marxist. Damn. Don’t let the knitting fool you.

Here is my comment from the site, and it’s long, sorry:

I just talked with a NE Portland mom this morning, an old friend of mine, who moved her kids this year from a neighborhood school (not their neighborhood school, but a neighborhood school) into a charter school.

She said, “Now people are saying that charter schools are some right-wing conspiracy to get rid of public schools? Rubbish! We are a public school.”

No, that’s not what I’m saying at all. She wasn’t trying to be dismissive of my politics and stance (we’ve had some conversations, prior to this morning’s), she was just wanting to know more.

But in some cases, for some parents and staff, this is how you can “dismiss away” the concerns many of us are raising.

If you call someone paranoid, it makes that person… what? Invalid? Crazy? And you can go on your merry way, because *you* don’t have a “right-wing agenda,” *you* are the parent of a “bright” child who deserves all the best.

(A mom — from our school — three weeks ago told me, “Good parents send their children to good schools; bad parents send their children to bad schools!” Well, that simplifies things, sure. And it makes us *both* bad parents, it would seem, because our school is not considered a “good” school. Hmmm. Am I a bad parent? Sometimes you’re the last one to know, damn.)

I would like you to remember, please, that our neighborhood schools contain many “bright” children whose needs are not being met, and whose parents are not transferring them to “good” schools. These kids are not getting the TAG classes they need, the music lessons, the attention in class and with homework, the art sessions. So when you grab your kids and dash, you aren’t helping out the greater community.

(Am I dashing by moving my family to Beaverton? Will I now be considered a “good” parent? The whole thing is a headache.)

But what “choice” are we being given by the district, when they’re pulling away art lessons to focus on literacy, math and testing? My “bright” kids are lucky — we belong to the art museum, we read constantly at home. Their father is a musician, we both write, they come from an educated extended family. I want to keep them in the neighborhood schools (although that neighborhood will soon be Beaverton, cos I am tired of fighting PPS).

Anyway, about the “paranoia”… I do think charter schools are being encouraged by the school districts because not all of the teachers have to be certified (ie — this can justify lower pay, if the teachers are not “worth” higher pay — as in, no undergrad or master’s degrees, no teaching certificates, no other special credentials to warrant the higher pay).

The teachers are paid in “cool” bucks, because they teach in a “cool, good” school, not that “crappy school up the block.”

And I do believe, strongly, that charter schools are union-busters. Emerson, Waldorf, Trillium, all the rest of you? Are your teachers represented by a union? Why is that?

When you’re taking the kids whose parents are best able to advocate for them, you’re taking the “cream of the crop” and putting them somewhere else? You’re screwing the rest of us.

I have given up on PPS, but maybe I wouldn’t feel this way if I had some of you in my corner.


  1. megs says

    You go girl! Privatizing, union busting and all of the above. Including the stripedy cool clothes…Once again..I love you Wacky mommy..You say it all. Radical woman, you.

    October 25th, 2007 | #

  2. jen says

    Wow, wow and wow. Colorado’s take on charter schools is vastly different. Here, the state can take underperforming schools and make them into charter schools. I don’t know what the point of that is, but they do it anyway. As for parent-driven charter schools, local districts have cut down on them. Many districts no longer permit them, or have such strict guidelines that it’s extremely difficult to get one started.
    My son goes to a charter school. My husband and I are both former public school teachers. We both left teaching because the school districts are so FUBARd that the education there was…teachers were succeeding in spite of the district we were in. And we were tired of the battle. Music teachers, see? We couldn’t take it anymore and made the decision long before A was born that I’d either homeschool (which we decided against when A was about 5 months old because I knew then we’d probably kill each other; he’s 6 now and I stand by the decision) or we’d find other options. A’s school is a Core Knowledge school. I love knowing what he’s actually being taught. Not goals, but the actual curriculum. We decided to send him there because our local school was at 160% capacity; no music, no art, no computers, no PE in kindergarten. The district is now building a school directly behind our house and we’re torn: community school vs strong curriculum.
    The teachers at A’s school are state-certified; it’s a public school, they have to be. They also need to be Core Knowledge certified: extra education for them. Being a charter school, they negotiate their salary based on education and experience, much like other careers. And I’m good with that. Why shouldn’t someone with more education and experience earn more? The pay chart put out by districts tries to be fair, but leaves out outside experience.
    I don’t know. I see what you’re saying. I have a former acquaintance who lived blocks from a very good school; I used to teach there. But she couldn’t stand the thought of sending her children to “that school” and drove into Boulder (home of cunning little hats and stripety clothes) instead. Drove.Me.Nuts. If it was a bad school, or an overcrowded one (as was our home school; the kids are packed in there like sardines), I’d understand. But an unfounded bias against public schools…eh.
    But just for the record, my boys have never worn cunning hats or stripety clothes. Crocs, though, love the Crocs. :)

    October 25th, 2007 | #

  3. BlackFriend says

    I have been dying of hysterical laughter all day about stripedy and cunning

    October 25th, 2007 | #

  4. becky says

    I was talking (last year) to a friend whose kid goes to Trillium. I asked her how it was, if it was nice having all those involved parents. She snorted at me and said that most parents are not invovled at all! They’ve done their duty by sending their kid to a charter (aka good school) and that’s that!)

    I love striped socks! I’m wearing some now! with Danskos! And I’m an avid urbanmama’s reader because I love to hate urbanmamas. The discussion on “avoiding getting carjacked while putting the baby in the carseat” made me laugh. I only thought about my poor back while buckling my kid in.

    October 26th, 2007 | #

  5. Mrs. G. says

    Wow. I’m glad I took the time to read this. I’m not sure if I’m an urbanmama. I do wear striped clothing, but I’m not terribly cunning. I am a teacher in an “alternative school” in the public school system. “Alternative” is code for difficult students that have no where else to go–I work with some fab kids who are dealing with some heavy home lives, learning difficulties or just don’t fit into the public school factory approach to schooling. I don’t have a problem with charter schools. In fact, with something as important as education, I’m all about choices. Do what you have to do to make it work for your kid(s).

    ok, I have to comment on this:

    “no other special credentials to warrant the higher pay”

    In my state, teacher and higher pay are oxymorons. Please. I’m not into “cool bucks”. I’ll take the cold, hard cash kind, thank you.

    All this said, I’ve homeschooled my kids. It’s all about choices. Enjoy your blog.

    October 26th, 2007 | #

  6. FREEAK says

    We have certainly been going through the same problems in our neck of the redlined NE (Vernon and Jeff schools). But I also want to state that one person can make a difference.
    Shortly after moving in to our dream home (a formerly boarded up crack house in foreclosure…but hey great bones and original wood work!), we realized that 24/7 there was drug trafficking going on at the duplex across the street from us.
    I called Office Quackenbush daily (sometimes many times a day). He as frank, honest, but I could also tell he cared. The police have no funding, drugs are a petty crime (even when they are waving a gun up and down the street while by husband is home with our 1 year old and 3 year old). They go to jail and are out 12 hours later. But I called, I got numbers, more numbers, and I encouraged neighbors to call.
    My bike was stolen, that was it. I saved for this bike AND it was my only transportation at the time to work. I knew who did it and so did the cops.
    So I called, every day. I got tired of the public defication and the needles, and guess what? These are health code violations. So officer Q gave me more numbers for the health code violations (they weren’t happy and wanted to know who gave out their direct numbers).
    I called and check portlandmaps.com to make sure the complaint was noted, inspected and resolved (ha). Well I guess you can only get so many of these before you can get a sheriff’s order to enter the premises and we got it! The house was finally closed due to health code violations (rats, mice, lice, feces, needles the police said it was the worst they had ever seen).
    Now we have a green build condo conversion across the street and it looks fabulous. One person can make the difference.
    Now that our 5 year old started pre-k at Vernon I am on the same (war) path. I am there, asking, challenging, learning and demanding. There aren’t enough teachers (classes with 30 or more students and 1 (ONE) teacher). They don’t have computer labs, music class or extras. Just the forced down their brains reading curriculum that is pathetic at best and damaging at worst.
    We don’t want to sell because this is our dream house. It fits us, it fits our family, and it is close to everything we wanted so we can minimize our footprint on earth (we can walk to New Season’s, Kennedy, Extracto Coffee (only the best), pubs, fine dining, not so fine dining, and we love it.
    We can’t afford to sell and buy in the “better school” neighborhoods. And I don’t want to live in the suburbs where we will be chained to our car. (The nonprofit I work at is 3 miles from our home and 5 blocks from my husband’s work, and of course 9 blocks form our neighborhood school). So right now I am in for the fight. I will volunteer, call, attend, help and if doesn’t work…..then well, the end of the story has yet to be written.
    I just want Free Required Equal Educational Access for (all) Kids.

    October 27th, 2007 | #

  7. nan says

    You go, Radical Feminist Socialist Mommies! But I have a confession: if I have to wear socks, (hiking, traveling to a cold country) they have to be stripey.

    October 28th, 2007 | #

  8. megs says

    Keep on fighting FREEAK! We too cleaned up our neighborhood from drug traffikers 15 years ago. It is an ongoing issue, but much much better now. And plEASE!!! fight the pathetic literacy adoption. At the training Friday I was appalled at how many teachers were extolling its virtues. CANNED and SCRIPTED! What more can I say? AND the 30 to 1 ratio is happening all over, but at the teacher training the folks in charge, who left the classroom for a reason and would never ever go back, and telling us all the things we have to be doing, although they make no sense whatsoever given the sheer numbers we are dealing with. GET VOCAL FOLKS! Stand up for your kids’ educations.

    October 28th, 2007 | #

  9. AmyS says

    As usual, WackyMommy is full of assumptions, insults and swearing. How radical.

    October 29th, 2007 | #

  10. WackyMommy says



    October 29th, 2007 | #

  11. BlackFriend says

    Um, Amy?

    I would super appreciate it if the charter supporters would address my questions about access. I posed it twice to no avail. So maybe on the next drive-by, someone can address how their respective schools are handling transportation issues and how their alternate calendars would impact parents reliant on sliding scale afterschool care (I.e. YMCA, Peninisula Childcare) which adhere strictly to the traditional PPS calendar? Also how the application processes have been changed to be as simple as netering neighborhood school? Are materials/staff available for interested parents in a variety of languages? ELL capabilities?

    October 29th, 2007 | #

  12. AmyS says

    BlackFriend, I am not the person to attempt an answer since I am not a charter school parent or employee/developer/etc. Our kids are not yet old enough for school. One of our main concerns about our neighborhood school is its schedule because it runs “year-around” and all the neighbors we’ve talked to with kids there say it is a headache especially when an older child is at a school (eg high school) that is on a different schedule. Academically, year-around is better because of the shorter breaks but if only two schools in the whole district or on that schedule, what is the point?

    The registration process, I imagine, varies from school to school. In a quick look at the forms used by a few charter schools and PPS, the PPS form looks much more intimidating to me but that’s probably because the charter schools don’t ask for all the emergency info until after the lottery. I agree that the material should be available in languages other than English (is there an existing law or administrative rule that addresses this?) but you’d have to consult with the individual schools on that since they are not a single entity. Same goes for the needs of English language learners.

    October 29th, 2007 | #

  13. Ms.Elliottakainvolvedmom says

    Wacky Mommy- so sad to hear that you are leaving us to go to the other side. at the same time, I heard the superintendent from Beaverton say ” We have school choice, but parents choose schools based on what their students need and interests are, not to get away from bad schools, because all of our schools are good schools” Man, I am praying for the day that someone in PPS can say all of our schools are good schools. To those of you who “cleaned up the neighborhood”, Thank You so much (Anyone know how to make your words sound sarcastic when typing? I know all caps means yelling, maybe italics means sarcasm). To the parent complaining about Vernon, I would first have to say that your child is in pre-k, I am sure that your child sings all day, in my experience, Pre-k students don’t get computer labs or electives. They sign and play and learn through signing and playing. My daughter who is a fifth grader gets Computer Lab one day per week and Spanish class two days per week. She also has the opportunity to participate in the SUN program after school where she takes music class, drama. i too would be concerned about the class sizes, however because of our predicted low enrollment (alot of neighborhood parents won’t send their kids to Vernon), we did not get the FTE needed. I am glad that you are prepared to get involved and hope to see you at the PTA meetings. I am the volunteer coordinator and would love to have you actively involved.
    Wow, wow and wow. Colorado’s take on charter schools is vastly different. Here, the state can take underperforming schools and make them into charter schools. I don’t know what the point of that is, but they do it anyway. ***The point is they sidestep accountability*** They can continue to under perform but they sidestep some of the state and National standards***
    More later.

    October 30th, 2007 | #

  14. Gabrielle says

    Pre-k is not about singing (at least not at our school). My son had a test Monday, would you like to see it? And yes, the tv will be on every day until all 20 kids are tested. If you question my comments about the pre-k curriculum them go to the PPS website and chose the pre-k and kindergaren link, then the curriculum and testing link. We have asked for a copy of the test so that we are more informed. And yes, there is a reading curriculum too even in pre-k (I am not sure if this is because of Title 1 funding or the district). Not trying to be sarcastic at all, just honest about what we have directly experienced and know to to be the truth (hence why I am using my name this time since I AM a paying member of the PTA, I DO go to the Parent/Principal coffee and Iwill be there this Friday the 2nd for ours.

    October 31st, 2007 | #

  15. Zipdodah says

    Need some “St. Johns” wort?

    November 1st, 2007 | #

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