Francis’ pick for County Superintendent of schools no sure thing

Editor:
Really? Is Castro running against opponents who do not support our kids? She writes that the more than 1,500 students being displaced due to school closures in Oakland “must now be offered to various charter school organizations.”

What an emotive word choice: “must now be offered?”

Rather than a direct endorsement of Castro, Francis builds a scaffold to pillory the 50 charter schools within Alameda County. She misuses statistics to create the impression that charter schools are bastions of racism; she points to disproportionate enrollments and suspension rates. Should suspension rates correlate with the demographics of the student population or correlate with infractions?

Using her argument, I would point out that California’s prison population hovers around 115,000 total; of these only 5% or 5,849 are female, while the remaining 95% or 109,151 prisoners are male. As a self-confessed male, I am offended, this is egregious sexism.

Francis points out that charter schools “have received a substantial level of heat” because they tend to “serve a disproportionate number of minority students” and the racial demographics of the teachers do not match those of the student population. The fact that charter schools “admit students via lottery and other randomized practices” speaks to their success and fairness, not to their failure. While Francis admits that “children and their families have a right to educational security,” she wants to eliminate school choice.

Francis argues that it is of utmost importance that Alameda County vote in support of a superintendent who is committed to holding educational institutions accountable. How do you measure accountability without metrics? Can you measure a fever without a thermometer?

Accountability has become a function of balancing and juggling demographics into a Procrustean fit. Families hope to win a lottery, pull strings, or lie about their addresses in order to get enrolled in a safe adequate school.

Why doesn’t Claudia Francis or Alysse Castro respect the right of Alameda families to make intelligent choices. If these families graduated from Alameda County public schools, should Francis and Castro doubt their ability to make smart choices or to deny them those options?

If we get rid of the adipose, remove the redundancy, the sclerotic layers and cut administrative pay, perhaps we could afford to keep all Oakland schools open, expand charter options and capacities, and end humiliating lotteries.

Francis signs off by saying that “Kids shouldn’t have to fight for their education and their futures should not be decided by lotteries.” But she wants to board up the very schools that kids are hoping to win a lottery and the privilege to attend.

If Castro does not support freedom of family choice and charter schools, how can she possibly bill herself as a candidate who “Supports Our Kids?”

— Jeffrey R. Smith, math teacher for 25 years at EHS