Osborne and Gaebler’s (1992) Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit is Transforming the Public Sector was a warning flag waved in our faces (actually, it was a steaming pile of shit). Clinton and Gore glommed onto the message with gleeful enthusiasm from the Republicans, of course. I watched from my academic perch as private concerns invaded the public institutions that I served. It was truly a slow but continuous heating of this frog’s water. The People must reclaim all Public concerns. The true profit should lie in the enhancement of civilization and not in the yacht count at the marina. Class war is real and will not be one by the somnambulant.
Charter schooling was pushed to break the teachers unions now they are creating them.LOL
Singer sez: “In short, the charter movement is all about the rich getting richer.”
The universal aim of all who would modify the noun industry to include the adjectives education, healthcare, prison and election*.
*Not a comprehensive list.
Chicago has the ingredients for a good “strike soup.” Outside teachers union support would be welcome, and I suppose shared on the next place to be descended upon.
Add support for privatization to the ‘not a dime’s worth of difference’ list.
Alongside support for:
The oppression of Palestinians
Militarized police forces…
Mr. singer, I love the main idea of your article, noting the hypocrisy of Charter School leaders. But I believe your generalizations about charter schools at the end of your article miss the complexity and nuance of the reality of Charter Schools, especially over different cities. I believe it is deceptive to broadly pain all/most public schools as “good” and most/all charter schools as “bad”
I taught in charter schools in DC for 8 years. My kid attends a public school. I see benefits and disadvantages of them both.
My personal position on charter schools is conflicted. I do not think they are the end all and the be all, and I don’t think they are demons either. As a progressive, I strongly do NOT want them to take over or threaten pubic schools, and I definitely do NOT think public schools should be privatized or weakened. I believe in the importance of public schools.
However, haven’t taught 7 generations of kids who chose charter schools, I know that a minority of kids really need and flourish in an alternative environment, so I would like there to always be a small, minority group of charter schools as an alternative for these kids.
Many of the kids at the charter school I taught at were on the margins of urban/low-income Black & Latino popular kids. They were the gay kids; the kids that dyed their hair, read manga & skate-boarded; the “nerds”; the “wimps”, and kids newly arrived from rural Central America. They told me stories of “getting beat up on the regular” at the public schools. Of being bullied and ostracized. They told me that their families chose our school for their physical safety. (A teacher friend of mine had her jaw shattered by a student). And/or because students actually had to attend class and pay attention to the teacher, and staff was allowed to hold students accountable for doing so. I also heard MANY stories from the kids about teachers who ignored the class and read the newspaper, of teachers doing drugs, of teachers having physical relations with students, of English teachers who could not speak or write standard English.
One day my Uber driver told me he graduated from college, the only one from his DC public high school, although it took him 6 years because the first two years he was taking remedial classes. He explained that he spent much of his high school years smoking weed in the hallways with other kids–when he bothered to show up. He said the staff could do nothing about it, even if they had wanted to.
Now, I can not substantiate ANY of these stories, and they are all from 10 years ago, before Michelle Rhee cleaned things up (although she went TOO FAR!). I LOVE my son’s public elementary school. And see the bit I wrote above about how I strongly support public schools and am against charter schools taking over.
I’m just saying I think you went a bit too far in excoriating charter schools in broad, black-and-white strokes. SOME of them make a HUGE difference in SOME children’s/families lives. SOME of them CAN provide life-changing alternative choices.
Also, not all teachers choose charter schools because they have no choice. At least here in DC, a lot of us are attracted to charter schools because 1. At least in DC high schools, they tend to be more orderly, organized, less violence, less cursing, and there are consequences if kids are disruptive, so its easier to actually teach; 2. Greater curriculum independence. My kid, who excels at math, was having a hell of a time understanding his long division homework one night. I thought it was something with my kid. I talked to his teacher. “Oh its not HIM; the entire class is frustrated and lost. The DC public school 3rd grade math curriculum skipped a step in the logical building of math skills, for some reason, and last year they didn’t learn a key skill/understanding they needed to understand long division. And we all knew it, but we are required to follow the curriculum lock-step, so we couldn’t do anything about it. So they’re all totally lost. It’s going to be a rough week”
Because of the independence of charter schools, I was able to innovate a new way of teaching many Government concepts in my U.S. Government class, that gained national attention. Several of my students chose political science majors in college. One of these told me that he always assumed he would be a car mechanic when he grew up. The kids is BRILLIANT.
Anyhow, you get the point. I love the central point of your article, but I encourage you to be a little more nuanced in your treatment of charter schools. Not everything in the world is black-and-white.
Would you attribute public school / charter problems to any extent to the governance status of DC?