Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More Military-Style Schools in Chicago

NPR reported today on a new trend in Chicago, among other cities -- to create charter schools in partnership with different branches of the military, and to impose military-type structures within those schools (here's a link to a similar charter school program in Minnesota). The purpose of these schools is to instill a sense of discipline and respect in students, and with the goal of improving academic achievement through a highly structured and hierarchical system.

One of the criticisms of these types of schools is that they (a) are inevitably geared toward working class African-American and Latino communities, whereas the magnet and charter schools in white and/or more affluent communities focus on other types of education, such as fine arts, sciences or music; and (b) that they impose a strict gender construction on students, and may very well operate under a lot of assumptions about what types of things boys and girls can learn, and what their stereotypical gender roles are.

Since these academies are charter schools and military-sponsored ones at that, Title IX may not be a useful tool for students at the schools, but the schools are still worth focusing on in terms of whether they operate, in part, on stereotypes of what public education ought to look like for people of different races, classes and genders.

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