Home > Uncategorized > Sorry, Washington Post, There is NO “Progressive Case” for Charter Schools as They Exist Today

Sorry, Washington Post, There is NO “Progressive Case” for Charter Schools as They Exist Today

March 7, 2020

Last week the Washington Post featured an article by Conor Williams, a Fellow at the Century Foundation, identified as a “Progressive Think Tank”. The title of the article was: “There’s a real progressive case for supporting charter schools”. Alas, I do not see ANY progressive case for charters as they exist today and if there is one to be made, Mr. Williams failed to make it.

In the article, Mr. Williams makes his case in this paragraph:

Properly implemented, charter schools can provide a valuable challenge to the injustice of neighborhood-based school enrollment. As privileged — usually white — parents across the country combat efforts to racially and socioeconomically integrate their neighborhood schools, the fight for educational equity has become a class struggle.

Mr. Williams goes on to make a persuasive argument as to why progressives should view charters as a quicker and far more practical fix to school segregation than housing policy and offers evidence that IF charter schools are held accountable and IF charter schools “...generally are run by nonprofit organizations, not by for-profit or online education companies” they can outperform public schools.

But, as noted frequently in this blog, one of the problems with the current methods for operating charter schools is the mechanism for application, which tends to favor engaged parents who want what is best for their children AND who have the wherewithal to complete the application process. In effect, charter schools siphon off engaged parents from the public school systems and leave behind the children of parents who, in too many cases, are incapable of monitoring to their child’s schooling. I want to be clear that these parents are not incapable because of a character or intellectual incapacity: rather they do not have the wherewithal to complete the kinds of application procedures associated with charters because they are working multiple jobs, working unpredictable hours, or raising one or more children on their own and under financial duress that requires them to address basic items like the provision of food, clothing and shelter for their children. If your life revolves around those fundamental issues worrying about your child’s schooling is a secondary concern.

Until charter schools in urban areas admit students base solely on lottery and until empty seats in affluent districts are available to students of different racial and socio-economic backgrounds there will be no equal opportunity in our nation. Progressives need to make THAT case instead of adopting the conservatives charter school workaround that assumes overworked and overstressed parents are undeserving of an opportunity to enroll in a charter school that offers something more than the “failed government schools”.

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