Nina Rees Misconstrued Clinton Charter Comment

I wrote a blog post last night about K-12 education policy and the presidential campaign trail. I wanted to include a  link to a Hillary Clinton  interview where she talks about charter schools. In search of that interview, I came a across a negative response article. First, I’ll use a quote to illustrate part of what Clinton said about charter schools and then show how it was misconstrued.

Hillary Clinton made a few comments about charter schools. She said,

And here’s a couple of problems. Most charter schools — I don’t want to say every one — but most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them. And so the public schools are often in a no-win situation, because they do, thankfully, take everybody, and then they don’t get the resources or the help and support that they need to be able to take care of every child’s education.

Of course, Nina Rees, the president and chief executive officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, only pulled ‘the-hardest-to-teach’ sentence out and wrote a misguided, misconstrued article, for, of course, US News & World Report.

Rees says that Clinton ‘misses the point’, that charters mostly help low-income students from rough neighborhoods, rather than dispense them to public underfunded public schools. But, when Clinton refered to “hardest-to-teach” students, and we know this by reading the whole interview, she meant students who have behavioral problems and aren’t easily integrated in some charter schools ‘no excuses’. Clinton acknowledges that charters there are both good and bad charters. She even mentions that we should use charters for their original purpose, which is to create a place to help those students who are not interested in school/have a hard time learning and create a flexible learning environment that engages students and allows teachers to find learning styles that can be replicated in public schools.

Rees then says that public schools should do just that– Rees doesn’t seem to pickup on the fact that Clinton even said this already.

Rees seems to also ignore the fact that charters have resources that public schools simply don’t have. She in no way takes on the fact that there are multiple levels to her veiw of ‘Hard-to-Teach’ kids. She took a very surface level understanding of this comment, and she did not try to explore other, more deeper types of students who are truly troubled by their low-income upbringing.

Charters do take in a lot of kids from low-income communities but Rees assume that ALL of these kids, simply by way of their environment, are who the ‘Hard-to-Teach’, which is not true. There are some many students who, like myself, come from a poor neighborhood but love to learn and would have thrived in a charter schools. My then disrespectful, rude and highly disruptive youngest brother would be kicked out because he’d break so many of the school’s no – excuse rules.

But, and this scares me, Rees chose to miss Clinton’s point. I know she chose not to see Clinton’s point and chose to twist Clinton’s comments because Rees:

A) chose to only focus on that one sentence and
B) didn’t acknowledge that positive comments Clinton made about charters and
C) didn’t even include a link to an article with the full interview.

Rees included several links that prove that charters have helped lower-income students, which Clinton did not deny, but Rees did not include a link to Clinton’s article.

What’s even worse is that Rees included a link to findings of high – income public schools using tactics to kick kids out of their schools, but she doesn’t acknowledge that Success Academy, a charter school network in NYC, is accused of doing the same thing.

It’s not a fair practice to her readers and is an example of journalists controlling the media to fit their view.

Rees isn’t the only person who misconstrued Clinton’s comment. Some folks call her a hypocrite because, historically speaking, she’s been an advocate for charter schools. But this interview isn’t condemning charters to death.  Clinton isn’t anti-charter now. She’s just aware of some faults of some charter schools and that should be okay. 

Charters need to stop having this “you’re-either-with-me-or-against-me” mentality. At least public schools have their faults and admit to it.

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