Oklahoma educator and education advocate Dr. John Thompson is an award-winning historian and inner-city teacher. He is the author of A Teacher’s Tale: Learning, Loving and Listening to Our Kids. He recently attended a speech given by charter school owner Steve Perry and wrote about his observations for the website, Nondoc.
Although I’d mostly come to hear perspectives from charter supporters in the crowd, I found myself instead listening, horrified, as keynote speaker Steve Perry, a former charter school principal-turned-showman from Connecticut, shouted non-stop insults during his entire keynote address.
Perry has a reputation for failing to respect the regulatory rules of the road and is remembered for calling unions “roaches” in 2013. Worse, his charter school, Capital Preparatory Magnet School, would sentence “even the youngest students in the building” to sit at what was known as the Table of Shame as a form of punishment. His current gig is running Sean “P-Diddy” Combs’ 160-student charter, a Harlem magnet school that recruits suburban students.
At Thursday’s summit, Perry told the audience that charter supporters shouldn’t even talk with people who disagree with them. He also claimed opponents of Oklahoma City’s KIPP expansion are racists. In fact, he said people like me — who display pro-Barack Obama bumper stickers but oppose charter and voucher expansions — are as bad as the worst racists in American history. Perry went on to say that public schools were “designed” to fail in order to maintain Jim Crow and drive the school-to-prison pipeline.
Perry said virtually nothing about real-world schools. Instead, he shouted memes that were often incomprehensible. He kept likening charters to the consciousness-expanding “red pill” in The Matrix while calling for an all-out assault on public schools and public school educators who were irredeemable because they had taken the “blue pill” of complacent resignation.
I don’t know if local charter leaders were fully aware of whom they were hiring to articulate their message in Oklahoma City. I do hope, however, that they are embarrassed by his toxic speech.
Local charter leaders should distance themselves from Steve Perry and apologize to teachers for his outrageous behavior.
His piece is a “Must Read” on the antics of Steve Perry and those seeking to destroy public education in the United States. You can find and comment on his piece at: https://nondoc.com/2017/01/31/steve-perry-charter-supporters/