Stories like this one from Nashville (http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120509/NEWS04/305090116), or this one from Los Altos, California (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-15/taxpayers-billed-for-millionaires-kids-at-charter-school.html) remind me how far the charter idea has strayed from its origins.
Parents in Nashville are fighting the Great Hearts charter because they know it is targeting children who are affluent and white; they know that it will cause their own public schools to become more segregated; they know it will drain needed resources from their public school to serve the most advantaged students.
The Bullis Charter is a school for the children of the rich and affluent in a high-end community. It is, in all but name, a private school funded by the taxpayers.
The original vision of charters was that they would serve the neediest, the unmotivated, the dropouts, the kids who had failed in public school. They would find innovative ways to reach those who were hardest to educate and would share what they learned with their colleagues in the public schools.
Now, as we see, there are charters who avoid the very students that charters were created to serve.
There is a reason that corporate reformers prefer charter authorizers who are insulated from the democratic process. By that, I mean that corporate reformers want authorizers who can ignore community protest, override the views of parents, and reject any grassroots opposition to their decisions. The reformers want to plant charters where they are not wanted or needed. And that’s what is happening in a growing number of communities today.