Your Kids Are Social Experiments | Letters to the Editor | Indy Week
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Your Kids Are Social Experiments 

Last week, we ran a pair of stories that looked at charter schools—one noting that the two charters in northern Orange County cater overwhelmingly to white students, the other discussing the efforts of a Durham charter to counteract the effects charters have had on traditional public schools.

Commenter LunaBelle takes exception to the former: "This article is very biased and quite frankly, unfair. What is wrong with having school choice? Yes, funding does follow the student, as it should, since it's for the student. The success of a charter school comes from the dedication and hard work of its teachers, administrators, and parents, who work tirelessly for the students without the same financial backing that public schools have. Implying that charter schools are racist is offensive."

Terry Mancour, meanwhile, thinks the Central Park School for Children's advocacy of reintegrating charters into the Durham Public Schools system is "an abysmal idea. If the parents and children of Durham were happy with DPS in the first place, there would be no need for charter schools. Unfortunately, articles such as this demonstrate how DPS is far more interested in social engineering than academic excellence or life preparation. Despite a few special programs for elite learners in a few specific subjects, DPS's lackluster performance, both on paper and in the experience of the parents and children, is why the charter-schools program was originally demanded.

"Those of us who have experienced both charter schools and DPS schools are protective of charters for a reason: we pay the highest property taxes in the state. We should have a choice of decent schools for that money. That includes schools that are 'unapologetically progressive,' where kindergartners talk about race, and schools that are unapologetically dedicated to critical thinking, numbers, letters, and vocabulary. Our children are not a social experiment."

To which commenter where's the beef? offers an interesting counterpoint: "The comment above illustrates well the dilemma parents and students are in. The choice between a deteriorating status quo and an experimental crap shoot. The class divide is toxic, and it is nearing the place where it cannot be spanned. Upward mobility has stalled. This inequality entrenches itself through both financial and invidious non-financial forms of wealth and power. The most obvious are an education and a stable, safe family life. The upper class has institutionalized passing wealth and privilege along to their heirs at the expense of other people's children. It is entirely possible to get a good education at the many schools that aren't in the top-tier system. But the bad ones are really bad for your kids' future. I hate to say it, but your children are a social and economic experiment."

Finally, Hugh has some thoughts on the recent controversy at the Contemporary Art Museum of Raleigh over its handling of Margaret Bowland's racially tinged exhibition, Painting the Red Roses.

"As an art buff of many years," he writes, "I've seen all kinds of art ranging from the religious to the obscene. I've liked/loved some and have hated/been repulsed by other works. Art from its ancient inception has been adored and disparaged. That is its excitement and interest—often its beauty. It is the epitome of freedom of speech.

"I have no problem with the people who dislike Bowland's work and disagreed with its value or meaning. Personally, I find the work very well done and intriguing. I find the criticism somewhat exaggerated. And I have a big problem with a power-based attempt at institutional censorship.

"The idea that a white artist or writer can't depict black experience is inherently racist. It is often the outsider who can be exquisitely sensitive to another's experience, even at times more expressive than that person themselves. I found Chris Vitiello's piece a classic example of knee-jerk political correctness. To censor art is to inhibit artistic development and is an offense to free speech and art itself."

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