Sunday, May 13, 2007

Pontiac Embraces Charters by Akindele Akinyemi

I have been following the recent activities in the State of Ohio regarding charter schools. It is very clear that Ohioans made a very poor choice in electing Ted Strickland as Governor and not Kenneth Blackwell.

We made the same mistake here in Michigan by re-electing Granholm.

Our urban conservatives here in Michigan are beginning to rally behind this issue on educational immediately without fear or intimidation from the far left who wants to shut down charter schools not just in Ohio but in Michigan.

Keep in mind as we continue to vote Democrat that this is the same party that are against charter schools, vouchers, alternative higher educational programs (online schools and accelerated programs) and have even taken God out of the schools. This is the same party that controls Detroit and the same party that are keeping 47% of the general population asleep in the city.

There is so much ignorance being perpetuated by state lawmakers on charters that it is really unbelievable. Why are we electing these people to begin with. Rep. Tim Melton should not be in charge of the House Education committee if he is against charter schools. How can Rep. Melton be against charter schools when his district are flooded with them in Pontiac?

The first thing Urban Conservatives need to do is declare how educational choice is a civil rights issue. There are so many of us in the closet that it is not funny and too many of us who knows the truth are quiet. Those days are over.

This is OUR fight as conservatives. Do you know what charters can bring to a city let alone a regional area? You have been hearing me talk about urban regional networks lately. Charters play a key role in the revitalization process of rebuilding the economy in our region.

I recently visited my old charter school in Pontiac, MI called the Pontiac Academy for Excellence. I helped open this school back in 2000. At the time the school was K-5 with limited resources. The principal of the school is Dr. Stephen Todd Evans.

When I left that institution in 2001 the school began to expand. It added on a sixth grade and worked it way up towards prosperity. The school dropped the former management company that was managing the school (Imagine Schools) and did something that I hope all charters will follow in due time.

They became self-managed. No external management company. Just a self-operating school from K-12.

Dr. Evans was not just the principal but now he is the Chief Academic Officer or Superintendent. Those teachers who I worked with when the school opened up in 2000 are now administrators in the expanded charter school. Unlike Detroit Public Schools or Pontiac Public Schools Dr. Evans trained, motivated and directed his staff towards educational leadership in the front office. This is what charters have to offer. I cannot understand why people flock to the traditional public school system to go for educational leadership only to be upset because they have to wait forever before they become an administrator. In charters the average time for a young person graduating from college to become an administrator is 3-4 years (if not less).

Pontiac Academy for Excellence is the only charter high school operating in Pontiac, MI. There are other charter schools in Pontiac. With the Pontiac School District closing schools, preparing to fire the Superintendent and constant school board changes its no wonder why children and parents are flocking to Pontiac Academy for Excellence.

Pontiac is flooded with charter schools. I would like for Urban Conservatives to begin building the same movement with charters in school districts like Inkster, Ecorse, Benton Harbor and even Flint. As we are pushing for charter schools to follow the academic and administrative model of the Pontiac Academy for Excellence we should also be fighting like hell for alternative teacher certification in this state.

As liberals begin to file for the school board races in Detroit we must stay the course of educational choice. The Detroit Public Schools will never come back to life as long as it is controlled by the unions. So I urge parents to follow our lead on educational choices for our children.

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