In the charter school debate, some knowledge can be useful: Opinion

Guest post by Chrystal Williams

Who is Julia Sass Rubin and what does she have against my kids?

Yesterday, the Rutgers University associate professor was quoted in The Star Ledger saying that “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.”

And about a month ago, in her quest to restrict the choice that parents like me have, she falsely suggested that the school my child attends in Newark loses more black boys to attrition than the district schools and that our school doesn’t serve “difficult” black boys. 

Nothing could be further from my reality.

As an associate professor who lives in one of this state’s most affluent communities, Ms. Rubin should know better than to try to speak for me and my neighbors in Newark, because she certainly doesn’t know our story.

When Prof. Rubin attacks my child’s school, North Star Academy Charter School, where 3,600 mostly low-income black and Latino students are heading to college, she uses faulty, snapshot data that is not only misleading but false.

First, let’s get it straight about black boys at North Star and about special education.

I have three children at North Star. My son, now in fourth grade, is a special needs child. He sure isn’t easy to manage in class. But the teachers saw what I saw: more than a little boy with uncontrollable anger. He is so good in math and enjoys reading to me at night.

I used to be afraid that he was one of the many black boys in my neighborhood headed for prison. I don’t have to worry about that anymore. I have a different vision for him, one where he is graduating from M.I.T. and working as an engineer.

This school, the teachers and administrators are part of my family. We trust and respect one another because the ultimate goal is to see all of our children own gain their freedom through educational achievement. Ms. Rubin needs to realize that slavery still exists in the form of sub-standard education. This injustice keeps communities in bondage–never able to truly live the American dream.

Why on earth would Prof. Rubin want to block my child’s path to college? It is his civil right. Why would she want to turn back the clock for him?

When my son is having a bad day, his teacher will text me and will even arrange to put him on the phone with me, so between she and I, we can get him back on track as quickly as possible.

She also texts me when he’s having a good day. My son’s teacher is always a text or cell phone call away. Unlike your suggestion that North Star teaches only the “easiest” children, my son is evidence that our teachers believe in the genius of every child.

Does that sound like a school that is trying to get rid of its troublesome black boys?

Her “study” yesterday was nothing more than a series of cherry-picked numbers chosen to create a false narrative, but it has little resemblance to the story of my family’s life. My child’s experience is proof of that. And the real evidence coming out of the high-performing charter schools shows that she is just wrong.

A few months ago, Newark families were asked to pick the public school they want to send their child to. More parents made North Star Academy their first choice than any other school, suggesting that Newark families — even those in “abject poverty” as Prof. Rubin claims — do indeed have the “bandwidth” to want the best for their children.

Chrystal Williams is a Newark education advocate and a mother of five children, three of whom attend North Star Academy.


About New Jersey Charter Schools Association

Formed in 1999, the New Jersey Charter Schools Association (NJCSA) is a 501(c)(3) membership association that represents the state’s charter school community and, by extension, charter school students and their parents. We are committed to advancing quality public education for New Jersey’s children through quality public charter schools, with the vision that every child in the State of New Jersey should have the opportunity to attend a high-quality public school that best meets his or her needs.
This entry was posted in Charters Change Lives, Newark, parent voice, School Choice and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to In the charter school debate, some knowledge can be useful: Opinion

  1. Pingback: Rubin’s Inaccurate Depictions create additional barriers for urban families | Charters Change Lives

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