Dear Mr. Hastings
But we know better, don't we Mr. Hastings?
We know this pledge, and the political-media machine that made it public, was timed to coincide with the school's and charter promotion industry's appeal to the County Board of Education. We know this was not about generosity, not about helping kids, but rather another in a long line of attempts to weaken the institution of public education, to privatize all things public, to bring your disastrous free-market principles into domination over this, the most important aspect of public life. We know this pledge was about bringing pressure to bear on the decision-makers at the county office. We know it was a disingenuous attempt to exert your warped political views, neatly dressed up in their Sunday best as school choice and parent empowerment. Others will praise you, but we know better, don't we?
I'd like to provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to education, rather than your commitment to shackle it to corporate interests. You pledged $1 million to a school that does not exist; it may exist as soon as 2007-2008, if only it can convince someone, somewhere (besides you of course) that it is a beneficial institution. I work at a school that does exist. We have actual classes, desks, students, and teachers. You pledged $1 million to a school with a plan that has been denied once already. I work at a school from the East Side that has made its mission to provide an education of surpassing quality to Asian and Latino immigrant students, an education that is not merely good for "those kids," but for anyone, from any background, anywhere. You pledged $1 million to a school whose leaders will go door-to-door recruiting the highest performing kids from the highest involved families. I work at a school that opens its doors to everyone and says, we'll teach you how to be successful here.
We've done it with stellar teaching and instructional reform that represent the future of public schools: increased instructional minutes, built in collaboration for teachers, Saturday intervention academies, an unending dialogue of best practices, a host of after-school, extra-curricular activities. Make no mistake, the stellar teaching isn't going anywhere, but the existing instructional reforms cost money, and in the perverse punished-for-success model of school funding, our sources are drying up. While we would never allow money to negatively affect the quality of instruction we provide every student, every day, it does have the power to slow us down.
Here's where you come in, Mr. Hastings: Fund our instructional reform model. Make a pledge to help our school continue to be the most improved school in the county, as we were for the previous two years. Help us continue to bring the kind of success many deem impossible among the student populations that compose our very identity as a school community. Pledge half to a living, vibrant school what you offered to a piece of paper.
If not us, then schools like us. Prove it isn't politics, but a true commitment to education that motivates you.
Public School Teacher