A self-proclaimed “Afroconservative,” Jean-Louis emphasized the necessity for charter schools to Ayers and questioned him on his hypocritical assertions:
I had parents and students crying … to make sure that their students could get into the charter schools in the district — because the charter schools were higher performing — despite the fact that the public educational expenditures were higher. I’m just trying to understand exactly what your solutions are. In the same breath you said you’re anti-government, but you’re also anti-privatization … I don’t understand what your solutions are, specifically for the African America community.
Ayers’ response was typical of a progressive: “What we need to do is invest more in the public schools.” Surprisingly, the crowd would not accept that answer, and collectively yelled out “Nooooo.”
Clearly adept on the subject, Jean-Louis replied to Ayers, “The per-pupil expenditures are higher in the inner city but we’re still not getting the results.”
Ayers then attempted to cite a Stanford University study that he insisted disputed claims that charter schools were better than public schools: “Here’s the truth about charter schools. They select their students and they’re not doing better.”
The Youtube video of the exchange between the two cuts to Jean-Louis refuting Ayers’ assertion based on her research of the very same Stanford study to which Ayers referred:
Stanford researchers found that students in these two categories [students in poverty and English language learners] who attend charter schools routinely outperform their traditional counterparts in reading or math.
The students in the two categories she mentioned are majority African American and Hispanic.
According to GothamSchools.org, the Stanford University study shows that students in 50 charter schools across the city are “outperforming their peers in district schools on state tests.” The website observes,
Charter school advocates welcomed the study, which is the second of its kind in the last several months to show charter schools outperforming district schools. In September of last year, another researcher at Stanford, Caroline Hoxby, released a study comparing students who entered and won charter school lotteries to those who entered the same lotteries but did not secure seats.
Jean-Louis’ statements to Ayers and the information found in studies such as that conducted by Stanford University are same sentiments which inspired Davis Guggenheim to write Waiting for Superman, a documentary about the “hidden catastrophe spreading quietly, insidiously through our nation’s cities, towns, and communities.” According to the film’s website, the documentary is “a deeply personal exploration of the current state of public education in the U.S. and how it is affecting our children.”
Guggenheim was also responsible for the production of the liberal climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth, and so cannot be accused of seeking to advocate conservative ideologies in Waiting for Superman for the sake of advancing his own political agenda. Slowly but surely, Americans are facing the reality of the disaster that is public education.
Young Vanessa Jean-Louis showed rare courage and insight in refusing to be misled or to allow the indoctrination of her peers by the radical member of Weather Underground.