Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cranston Pride

I attended the anti-Mayoral Academy rally yesterday evening in front of Cranston East High School. You'd have to call it an "anti-" rally because it wouldn't have happened yesterday otherwise, but the overall vibe was that of pride in and celebration of the Cranston Public Schools (and amusingly, anti-ProJo signs). Probably the absolutely perfect weather and charming Cranston kids frolicking on the lawn with Vivian and Julia helped too to set my mood.

The organizers did a good job of keeping this a rally by and for Cranston, especially since so much of support for the academies comes from people who won't be directly affected at all, but are just charter supporters brought in from other towns (or states). And nobody who was there could attribute the 400+ attendance to just turnout from public employees unions.

It is one thing to create a small, specialized charter school that presents an option to Cranston parents and students. They don't mind that at all, in fact one was approved by the Regents earlier this year without a peep of disapproval. It is another thing to propose a moving a block of students out of a poor urban system battered by the worst impulses in American education for decades. Nobody is unambiguously proud of the PPSD right now, even if we oppose large scale charter expansion on principle and for pragmatic reasons. But to move nearly 10% of the students out of a successful suburban district -- exactly the kind of district people move to for the quality schools -- makes no sense and will be stiffly opposed, and indeed never accepted even if imposed.

The ball is in the Regents' court. They've got ample reason to reject.

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