6000 Readers Now! | Talking About My Mama | Trying to Make Us Invisible | Speaking on the Lower Frequencies

Good morning, CharterFolk.

At the top of today’s post, I want to extend another welcome to large numbers of new readers who have come onto the CharterFolk platform in recent days. We’re so delighted to have you! You joining us brings our community to almost 6,000 readers! It’s a number we consider pretty hard to believe given that we started with less than 600 just over two years ago.

So, yes, we’ve got a little heft now, but not so much that I don’t have time to respond to every person who reaches out. So if ever you want to connect, ping me at jed@charterfolk.org.

New readers, I know, are coming from many different communities across the United States, and I look forward to writing on developments happening across the country, as I normally do.

But you happen to be jumping on board right as I am diving deeply into the story of the amazing progress that charter schools have made in Los Angeles.

Those of you who don’t know me well yet probably don’t know that Los Angeles was where I did my seven years of teaching …

… right at the corner of Slauson and Central …

… where, among other projects, I’d encourage our kids to emulate the masters …

… before heading over to LACMA …

… where students could see the masters’ works themselves.

Los Angeles is also where I first came into contact with another form of master.

The early pioneers of the charter school movement.

People like Johnathan Williams and Kevin Sved …

Irene Sumida and Joe Lucente …

.. and Yvonne Chan.

CharterFolk.

People who showed me what was possible in public education.

Essentially, these LA leaders, and many others like them, birthed me into my charterness.

So when we have a book like this come out …

… that doesn’t do justice to their efforts …

Well …

I confess to having a response that feels very much like … “they’re talking about my mama.”

(Who, by the way, was also a teacher …

… and who is someone I also write about here at CharterFolk.)

But I want to assure CharterFolk readers both old and new that I realize that this isn’t just some place for me to work through my issues.

Though goodness knows …

… I have my share.

There actually is a method to this madness.

Because my belief is that the Los Angeles story well told …

is the Newark story.

is the DC story …

is the Denver story.

is the Boston story …

… is …

is

is!

In each of these cities and many others, like has happened in Los Angeles, despite the progress that we have made, we find so many misrepresentations of our story.

So many distortions …

… or just plain omissions.

Such that it can feel like people are looking right through us …

… as though we’re cellophane.

Or even worse.

Invisible.

Perhaps that’s what brings out the mother-defense instinct in me most viscerally …

… misrepresentations that can render the contributions of the charter school movement invisible …

… like this book does …

… so much so that someone who is as much a friend of charter schools as Jay Matthews …

… can write an article about the Fuller book and supposedly the past 25 years of progress that has been made in Los Angeles …

… and not mention the word charter.

Just like the new superintendent’s inaugural address in Los Angeles describing all his future plans …

… ran to 3,785 words, and didn’t contain the word charter.

Erased from the future and erased from the past.

Ultimately, conspiring to render us …

…invisible.

Like the lead character in Ellison’s monumental creation …

… who rounds out the story with an ending for the ages:

“Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?”

I consider it a mantra. An aspiration.

Certainly every charter city is unique in its own way …

… as is every CharterFolk.

And not so much aspiring to speak for anyone, but hopefully speaking to as many in our world as possible …

… by using the lower frequencies …

… the ones that tune us into the deepest, most important things happening in public education today …

… we become ever more united and committed in our work to improve the lives of young people …

… and to make more visible

… first among ourselves but ultimately to all …

… the past contributions that have been made by our nation’s charter schools …

… as well as our future ones, which are about to unfold.

To all of you who have been here since the very beginning:

Thank you once again.

To those who are joining us for the first time:

Welcome.