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The Best Charter School Cannot Hold a Candle to the Worst Public School


The Best Charter School Cannot Hold a Candle to the Worst Public School

Steven Singer

There are good charter schools.

I admit that.

There are bad public schools.

I admit that, too.

But if one had to choose between the worst public school and the best charter school, you’d still be better off with the public school.


Charter schools were designed for one reason that it’s founders will not admit.

To break up Teachers Unions.


Although I agree with you’re post, I believe there is a second reason, transfer public tax money to corporations.


Yes, privately owned limited liability corporations.


For most Charter Schools, I would agree wholeheartedly with both PonyBoy and ReconFire, especially about the for-profit Charter Schools.

However, there are some exceptions.
I know of several Alternative Schools that were founded specifically to serve the needs of free-thinking students who do not fit in, or do not thrive in the Public Schools. Both the Alternative Schools and the Public Schools benefit from a more productive student body when these schools exist. Most of these Alternative Schools were founded long before the Charter School shams came into vogue. But the Charter School legislation has allowed these schools to legitimize their existence as well as sometimes provide some funding. So I would say that there are some non-profit “Charter Schools” that do serve a real public purpose.

And for these Alternative Schools, I would take issue with the author. Rather than being governed as a system of tyranny, they are more governed by a system of anarchy. Most Alternative Schools are partially governed by the students themselves; students participate not only in governing, but in planing field trips and making contacts on behalf of the school outside of the classroom. This not only allows the students to be invested in the schools, but the students gain valuable experiences that they may not learn when the school plans out everything.


Excellent article here by Mr.Singer!

There are certain fundamental needs of a civilized, democratic society that should never, ever, be privatized. These include, among others, the following:

Universal K-12 education;
Law Enforcement;
Criminal Justice;
Military Forces;
Public lands, parks, and transportation infrastructure;
Public utilities (Water systems, Utilities, Sanitation and Sewage systems).

This encroaching wave if privatization is not in the Public’s best interest!
Do not be fooled! Once it’s gone, it’s gone!


I have to agree. I have been part of the developing committee for at least one alternative “charter” school that was created specifically because the public schools in the area were filled with dysfunctional dishonest and narrow minded staff, and all the kids who did not fit in the conventional mold were dropping out, being homeschooled, or failing miserably. To see the turnaround was a-m-a-z-i-n-g. High proficiency scores, beautiful portfolios, college enrollments…the district started out fighting the charter tooth and nail because it would 'lose money," and then embraced it because it was bringing in students who were homeschooled previously (or had dropped out), and the per-pupil funding went up. It was a win-win for the community, the district, and most of all, the kids. AND, to counter the author’s premise, I have worked in public schools that were hotbeds of corruption, embezzlement, lazy unqualified teachers, brutal principals, and angry, rebellious, or apathetic students. In fact, I would challenge him to Google “embezzlement in public schools” and see how many hits he gets. His rant is not reflecting the truth of the situation!!


This may be true in other states, but not here in Washington state. Look at the law here governing charters and you will see a model for how it can be done. Charters are held to a much higher standard than traditional public schools, cannot be for-profit corporations, must serve underserved populations, cannot discriminate in enrollment, and are subject to all the same transparency laws as any other public school. So please don’t paint all charter schools with the same brush.


My kid goes to a charter school in the LAUSD system. It is the only public school option (and as such accepts everyone from the district). It is also a pretty decent school and though of course I can imagine things being better, I can imagine them being a whole lot worse too. This diatribe against charters is thus hard to read for me. Maybe the author is correct on the big picture, I don’t know, but the school you send your own kid to is a very personal issue and this author is willing to alienate a lot of parents that are reasonably happy with their charter school. I’d rather just have reform as needed than going to war with the concept. Still seems better than private school vouchers if you ask me.


Tthe words you speak are so true my daughter goes to tlca Texas Leadership Charter School of Arlington she’s been there almost 4 years been telling them for two and a half years that she needed to be tested for our for learning disabilities they tested her and said there was nothing wrong with her then told me that they weren’t going to label her and that that’s all I wanted them to do label her after getting four people fired three years later to find out my daughter has a learning disability now we are dealing with no confidence I feeling like she can’t do anything right I was very active in school with her I only went to the school twice this whole year cuz none of them treat me right also find out that they were talking about my daughter the principal and the special ed teachers they’ve tried to kick her out I am not doing it for myself I’m doing it for other kids that come through there that are are having learning disabilities or problems I’ve always been scared to put her in a public school if you can help me or have any ideas please call me back thank you Monica Hernandez


“I have been part of the developing committee for at least one alternative ‘charter’ school-”

Please post a link to this school.


I agree with much of what you say. I will point out however that America’s schools have always been unequal and unfair to the lower classes, and that by design. Since School funding in America is tied to property taxes, th poorer the district a public school is in, the less money and resources it has to educate it’s students. It is the worst kind of hidden oppression that has forever plagued our schools and our students. In a true democracy our schools would get even funding for all…and an even chance for a good education and a successful and happy life. Such has never been the case in America.


Give it time…the profit motive will eventually little by little turn your kids school into a holding pen and nothing more. It is inevitable as the sun coming up in the morning.


This is a dangerous and moronic post, and racist, as well. In a city like Detroit, where I live - home to the nation’s worst public school system - Singer would have students stuck in that school system with absolutely no options. Charter schools were created to give educational hope to students in our nation’s inner cities, and now Singer wants to take all that away just because he doesn’t like the governance model of charter schools.

White children whose parents can afford private schools - they have options. Children of color whose parents can’t afford private schools - they have no options. All because you say so. Mr. Singer, that’s racism, plain and simple.

I invite you to come to Detroit to look these parents in the eye and tell them you don’t feel they should have a choice when it comes to their child’s education. Look them in the eye and tell them that you’ve decided their only option is to send their child to the Detroit Public Schools. Look them in the eye and tell them that if they wanted a choice, they should have been born rich. All because you said so.


Maybe. But in the meantime my kid’s getting a reasonable education. Should I not take him For checkups and engage with the doctor because we don’t have the type of health care system I’d prefer? Hell no.


Just remember that by not opposing it you are in the end condoning it…and what it will become. I fear you do not realize the price that society will pay. I shudder at the thought of corporate run schools. I understand your dilemma and thank heaven I do not have kids and be forced to deal with such difficult decisions. I fear I would have been forced to move to the wilderness of Montana to even have a chance at raising free thinking children. Our society is sick…I would prefer to raise a child virtually anywhere other (with the few obvious exceptions) then in America.


…and…to brain wash our children toward the “corporate /capitalist” model of thinking …and yeah. public schools could have do e a better job of teaching true Civic duty and real history . But Charter schools with corporate money???..that yr’s a joke…


This is an absolutely moronic post. To prefer poor traditional public schools over a new kind of public school because the boards are elected is nonsensical. Traditional schools complain that charters take money from them, but look at the unfunded pension liabilities these elected boards have agreed to. And why would they do that? Because they took campaign contributions from teachers’ unions, and then sat across the table from those unions and negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that covered pensions. You say charters are an attempt to make public schools more corporate? If that kind of conflict of interest happened anywhere else, peoples’ heads would be on spikes. But not with public sector unions like teachers unions. Charters answer to the same state testing regime that traditional public schools do. Charters have to re-up every so often. Does the teachers’ union have to do that? Hell no, they would never agree to that! I can show you charter school after charter school that knock the socks off their traditional public school counterparts on testing results, often educating the most under served communities. You don’t like charters because the kids they educate take the money with them somewhere else, pure and simple.


Inasmuch as I disagree with the fundamentals of the charter movement, this author’s piece is completely ridiculous. The way it’s written in terms of the spacing is distracting enough. However, in all of the ways that supposedly make charter schools “bad,” although they are not inherently “bad,” you can find plenty of public schools that behave in similarly destructive ways. There are innumerable public schools with waiting lists, terrible leadership, worthless elected boards, terrible course offerings, and the rest.

It must also be a tremendous privilege for this author to stand on principle when choosing a school for his child, of which many others are not granted. The author seems to lack a great deal of context and history to his understanding of education overall and prefers an overly simplistic zero-sum, black-white analysis. It’s precisely these kinds of non-nuanced arguments that have ruined the resistance to education reform in the last several years.


The ELECTED officials in a school district allow and fund charter schools. So you must be against democracy, wanting to institute your tyranny and not allow DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED officials to do the will of the people. Then teachers unions impose their tyranny on the community demanding more benefits than the democratically elected officials, who are carrying out the will of the voters, deem necessary.

I can only surmise you think the voters were duped or misinformed so you have to protect the children from evil profiteers who have stolen the government. So why even allow voting, most people are too stupid to know what is best for them.