This year, a strong push for charter legislation was turned back in Alabama, Mississippi, Washington, and Kentucky. It was interesting to read the bold claims made by charter advocates, promising that charters would solve the education problems of the state. No doubt the proponents will be back next time, especially in states with conservative Republican governors, who seem determined to introduce school choice regardless of evidence from other states.
Here is an example of the misleading and frankly untruthful propaganda that failed in Kentucky: http://www.freedomkentucky.org/index.php?title=Charter_schools. Here was one Kentucky response: http://www.keepkentuckylearning.com/sites/www/Uploads/Files/2012Session/charterSchools12110.pdf.
Why anyone believes that opening charter schools for 5-10% of a state’s children will solve its problems is puzzling. Why anyone thinks it is a good idea to bring in for-profit organizations to skim off the best kids in the poorest communities is puzzling. Why anyone thinks that charter schools will not damage small communities is puzzling. Why anyone thinks it is a good idea to create a dual system of schools, both drawing down the same funds for public schools, is puzzling.
It is surprising, in light of the accumulation of studies and findings that charter schools typically do not get different results unless they spend more, that the same claims are repeated again and again.
Despite the claims of ideologues, competition does not make public schools stronger. When public schools and charter schools compete for the same limited dollars, public schools lose because they don’t get the extra funding that philanthropists, rightwingers, and financiers pump into the competition, nor are they able to choose their students as charters do, nor may they push out the ones that don’t get good enough test scores, nor can they limit the numbers of students with disabilities or those who don’t speak English. The costs of running public schools don’t go down when students leave for charters, so public schools end up laying off teachers and cutting programs.
What does this phony competition have to do with improving education?