What is it that urban charter schools actually do?
Reader: if you happened to read this recent New York Times piece on urban charter success, you know that the upshot is that Boston charters are *crushing* the achievement gap and sending loads of kids to college. Close reader that I am, though, I couldn’t help but notice that something was missing. Like any description at all of what makes schools like Match Charter Public School, which gets a special NYT shout out, so different from, say, schools in the suburbs where, based on the contents of my mail bag, the NYT article and the research it cites has been greeted with great enthusiasm. Which gave me a wild idea: why not interview a student who attends Match and ask her to describe what her school is like?
The smartest kids in the world
First: a bit of context. Last year I embarked on an effort to talk to as many Boston students as possible, inspired by these students who were protesting the planned closure of several schools in the city. More recently I’ve been working with a group of students who are collecting stories from their peers about testing, school funding and discipline. These students have dazzled me with their keen grasp of what’s at stake in the debate over the future of public education in cities like Boston—issues that seem to elude many of the adults who have the mic. The downside of my experiment: I’ve all but lost interest in talking to said adults. Which is why, in the year ahead, you’ll be hearing plenty from students on this page, and in my finally-just-about-to-be-shared-with-the-world podcast series: Have You Heard? But enough about me. You want to hear from Match High School senior Rayauna Moss-Cousin. Rayauna: take it away.
A love/hate relationship
My name is Rayauna Moss and I attend Match High School, a charter school in Boston. I’ve been in the Match system since middle school and I have a love/hate feeling for the school. I love that Match is so helpful with the college process. We have classes dedicated to doing college applications and applying for financial aid. I appreciate that the most because I feel like I wouldn’t be too far in the college application process without Match.
Often school can feel like a prison to me. When it comes to discipline, my school is very strict. We have a demerit and merit system that tries to teach us to be professional and get us ready for college. However, we are often given unnecessary demerits for offenses like hugging too long in the hallways, or not being in uniform. We aren’t treated as young adults. I’ve been given detention for not having a uniform, for being late, and for chewing gum. If you are not in uniform, you have to trade in your phone or T pass as a rental for Match’s clothes. But many students need their phones to contact their parents and a T pass to get home safely. I don’t understand how demerits and detentions prepare us for college. The school doesn’t have a valid answer about how their strictness relates to college but I have stopped questioning Match because my questions are never answered.
The school doesn’t have a valid answer about how their strictness relates to college but I have stopped questioning Match because my questions are never answered.
In the past few years, a little less than half of my original class left Match because they just couldn’t take the unnecessary rules and regulations anymore. I feel like students should have equal rights, no matter what kind of school they attend. My main question is why do charter schools have to be so strict? All Massachusetts charter schools should be held to the same standards that public schools are and shouldn’t rely on harsh punishments to teach students.
Well put, Rayauna…
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