A teacher in a New York City charter school sent me this article.

He said he was fed up with the claim by charter boosters that they are trying to end inequality. Actually, the opposite is true. He also wanted teachers to know about the website where his article appeared: school building.org, because it is written and edited by teachers.

Here is an excerpt from his post:

“According to the New York City Charter School Center, charters serve less than 9% of the 1.1 million children in the New York City school system. Although FES claims that school funding does not affect a school’s efficacy, it seems obvious that Success owes its achievements in part to its incredible wealth. These two organizations command an overwhelming amount of political attention and financial support, all to benefit a very small percentage of the city. Allowing more charters to open may or may not be a good thing, but it’s clear that it will not significantly impact the inequality of New York City schools.

“Now this may all be old news to people who pay attention to this sort of thing. But the first thing that bothers me about this rally is that Success and FES must be well aware that their work will not significantly affect these “two school systems” that they so resoundingly condemn. Even if we let alone the fact that FES has drawn this division in the public schools for a rhetorical purpose and accept their definition of the problem, it’s obvious that charters like Success only introduce a new form of inequality into the system. That the benefactors of this new network are mostly low-income students doesn’t take away from the fact that the organization functions as a separate entity with better access to philanthropy and political protection than the “tunnel to failure” schools. In this sense, charters are actually the cause of a separate and unequal system; the kind of system that this rally is pretending to fight.

“And yet, Success and FES have mobilized teachers and families with false information and an incomplete portrayal of their role in our unequal society. This leaves me with a few questions. What does it mean for a privileged school to use the voices and bodies of their families to push an agenda that contradicts the message that these families have been told they are supporting? What does it mean for a charter school to use disadvantaged families to further expand their privileges? What does it mean for a school to pretend to support equality while it pushes an agenda that only benefits the few?

“(And of course I’m leaving aside a number of very important concerns. The verdict is still out on whether or not the public should support policies to expand charter schools. It’s also not clear that this particular school, Success Academy, really does have great schools by anyone’s standards other than their own. A lot has been written about the school, and the most reliable report from Kate Taylor portrays what many would feel is not a school they would call great. I’m also ignoring the fact that charter schools, whose selection process affects their population, should not be lazily compared with public schools who have no selection process. Or whether it is ethical for a school that receives public funds to close for the day and pay to bus it’s teachers and students to a political rally. These concerns are worthy of deeper investigation, but that must be for another post.)”