Steven Singer here explains why any public school, no matter how “bad,” is better than ant charter school, no matter how “good.”

He begins:

But if one had to choose between the worst public school and the best charter school, you’d still be better off with the public school.

Does that sound crazy? Does it sound ideological, partisan, or close-minded.

I don’t think so.

Imagine if we said the same thing about tyrannies and democracies.

There are good tyrannies.

There are bad democracies.

Still, I’d prefer the worst democracy to the best tyranny.


Because even a badly run democracy is based on the principle of self rule. The government gets its right to make and enforce laws from the consent of the will of the governed.

Even if our representatives are corrupt and stupid, even if our federal, state and local agencies are mismanaged and disorganized – there is the potential for positive change.

In fact, the catalyst to that change is embedded in democracy, itself. Egalitarian systems founded on the principle of one person, one vote tend toward fairness, equity and liberty much more than others.

Bad leaders will be replaced. Bad functionaries will be retrained or superseded. Bad agencies will be renovated, renewed, and made to serve the will of the people.

However, in a tyranny, none of this is true.

Even if you have a benevolent tyrant who does nothing all day but try to do whatever is best for his or her subjects, that is a worse state of affairs.

Eventually the tyrant will change. Absolute power will corrupt him or her absolutely. Or even if this bastion of human goodness is incorruptible, he or she will eventually be deposed, replaced or die.

And there is nothing – absolutely nothing – to ensure the next tyrant is likewise benevolent. In fact, the system is set up to increase the likelihood that the next ruler will be as selfish, greedy and malevolent as possible.

This is because it is the system of tyranny, itself, that is corrupt – even if those that fill its offices are not.

The same goes for good charter schools.