Wednesday, February 10, 2016

In Camden, Renaissance Schools are Community Schools

One of the constant complaints from the anti-charter cadre is that independent schools decimate neighborhood schools, which sometimes serve as community centers. For example, here Marie Corfield, an ardent anti-choice blogger, interviews Keith Benson, a Camden Public Schools teacher who runs PR for the Camden Education Association and is a member of Save Our Schools-NJ. Benson says that if he were superintendent of Camden he would “put additional money into supplemental services…Make sure students are getting the counseling, the food, the extra support to help alleviate the blocks that make attending school difficult. More social services – a lot more social services, things that focus on the whole child – not just the student."

Makes sense, right?

Then Benson adds, “if we’re being really honest, this education ‘reform’ movement is not about helping students succeed, it’s about helping private corporations get access to public dollars.”

In other words, the expanding charter school sector in Camden is all about profit, not serving communities.

Perhaps Mr. Benson will reconsider, now that Camden Public Schools has announced  that the city’s hybrid charter/traditional “renaissance” schools have signed an agreement to build programs that include family programming, adult job training, financial literacy workshops, legal seminars, coat and food drives, health screenings, greater access to facilities for community events and sports, support services for needy residents, volunteer projects for neighborhoods, school-based resource centers that will provide computer access to all local residents, gym access, and cancer-screening. Also, KIPP, Mastery, and Camden Prep, the city’s renaissance school operators, will guarantee job interviews for open positions to all city residents. Here’s coverage from the Courier-Post and the Star-Ledger.

Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard said. "I appreciate the educators and the community leaders coming together to support these opportunities that will benefit students, families, and residents all over Camden."

Sounds like community schools to me.

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