Home > Uncategorized > Can Progressive Educators Do ANYTHING to Stem the Tide of Privatization? Should Support for “Shanker Charters” be On The Table?

Can Progressive Educators Do ANYTHING to Stem the Tide of Privatization? Should Support for “Shanker Charters” be On The Table?

After reading the comments on Diane Ravitch’s post yesterday that embedded Anthony Cody’s recent post reporting on a discussion he facilitated between Massachusetts Teachers Association president Barbara Madeloni and California Teachers Association president Eric Heins at the Network for Public Education Forum I came away deeply discouraged about the future of progressive education given the positions of the two major political parties. The fundamental question the teachers’ union faces is whether they should continue supporting the Democratic candidates in gubernatorial elections where Republicans explicitly favor vouchers and Democrats implicitly favor them by supporting the reform movement’s advocacy for charter schools… or should they support explicitly pro-public education challengers who run against establishment candidates in the primary campaigns? The Teachers Unions invariably select the establishment candidates in elections, fearful that their support for an insurgent will result in them being marginalized should the establishment candidate prevail in the primary.

Here’s my thought on this issue: instead of debating the which candidate to select based on their stated position on public schools versus charter schools, the unions should stake out their position on charters using Albert Shaker’s original vision. It strikes me that by supporting the concept of charter schools that are overseen by teachers and not privatized that teachers unions might be able to demonstrate their openness to “choice” within the existing governance framework.

Maybe the California Teachers Union should accept the proposition that the debate between the charter schools advocated by Eli Broad and the “traditional public schools” IS a tired one. Maybe the debate should be between the charters envisioned by Albert Shanker and the privatization envisioned by neoliberals and conservatives alike.

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