In urban areas across the U.S. charter schools are being built to directly combat the “failing” public school system. Many schools like Harlem Sucess Academy 2 in Harlem, NY redefine school structure to take more active role in their students success. They require a strict dress code, longer school days, and an extended school year. They encourage teachers to work with students until they understand, even if that means staying until nine o’clock at night. The administrators of these schools irrevocably believe that their students can and will succeed. Many students enter the school feeling the exact opposite; their environment has taught them that only the very minimum is possible and dreaming big is for the rich. Several students come from single parent homes, homes where drugs are very present, gang life, and poverty. These schools in many ways are the only opportunity these kids have ever had to break out from underneath poverty and be a successful part of our society.
Citizenship schools founded by Esau Jenkins in South Carolina the schools worked very similarly to Charter schools, it taught and inspired Black people how to be participatory members of society, despite numerous obstacles. The schools taught illiterate adults how to pass literacy tests to vote, pass driver’s license exams, and open a checking account. The schools were extremely private; they held class in the back of a black grocery store to not be seen by white people. The schools were absolutely necessary. The government was using tools such as literacy tests and various stimulations to refrain from allowing black people to vote. These schools provided a direct solution to their barriers. If black people could pass the test they gained their political in 1954. These schools taught the ticket to how to beat the system without lifting a fist.
Charter Schools and Citizenship school speak to how far we come, and how far we still need to go. Both schools are working to empower blacks to “be greater’ despite their environment. The charter schools teach middle and High schools that college is not an option but a requirement and that poverty is not an excuse for failure. The citizenship schools helped adult’s acquire their most basic freedom, despite a mass of people who would do anything to not let It come to fruition. It some ways it’s sad to think sixty years past the citizenship schools, charter school are still very much needed to raise black people out of poverty and awful circumstances. On the other hand, I am extremely impressed and grateful for those who saw a strong need and worked tirelessly to open a school to challenge the status quo.
Source: The Lottery - a documentery directed by Madeleine Sackler.