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Charter Schools and the Future of Public Education

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Here is a piece on charters that gets to the root of some important issues.  We have a small number of charters filling an important niche in New Hampshire and, so far so good.  But the author, Stan Karp, puts his finger on it.  The risk for the future is that charters the New Hampshire way become become contaminated, as they have in others states, by the privatization bug Mr. Karp describes below (highlighting added).   Here’s Mr. Karp’s conclusion:

It has become impossible to separate the rapid expansion of charter networks from efforts to privatize public education. Commissioner Cerf has spoken of replacing the current “school system” with “a system of schools.” Former deputy commissioner Andy Smarick campaigned to “replace the district-based system in America’s large cities with fluid, self- improving systems of charter schools.” Governor Christie, a longtime supporter of private school vouchers, was once a registered lobbyist for Cerf’s former company, Edison, Inc., then the largest private education management firm in the nation. [xix]

Inevitably, charter schools have become part of this polarized debate about education policy. Those who believe that business models and market reforms hold the key to solving educational problems have made great strides in attaching their agenda to the urgent need of communities who have too often been poorly served by the current system. But left to its own bottom line logic, the market will do for education what it is has done for housing, health care and employment: create fabulous profits and opportunities for a few and unequal access and outcomes for the many.

Our country has already had more than enough experience with separate and unequal school systems. The counterfeit claim that charter privatization is part of a new “civil rights movement” addressing the deep and historic inequality that surrounds our schools is belied by the real impact of rapid charter growth in cities across the country. At the level of state and federal education policy, charters are providing a reform cover for eroding the public school system and an investment opportunity for those who see education as a business rather than a fundamental institution of democratic civic life.

It’s time to slow down charter expansion and refocus public policy on providing excellent public schools for all. Using charters as a reform strategy has become too much like planting weeds in the garden. Better to tend the soil and help all public schools flower to their full potential.

read the whole piece at Charter Schools and the Future of Public Education

The governor and our state board of education seem to be aware of these issues.

h/t Diane Ravitch

1 Comment

  1. Charter Schools are vulnerable to many more fractured interests and less on societal universals. This degrades the ‘melting pot’ for understanding each others differences and accepting the work it takes for finding the human ‘universals’ that Democracy depends on.

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