Adolph Reed Jr. and Cornel West blast the charter school advocates who dishonestly attacked Bernie Sanders’ plan for charter accountability as racist.

This is an amazing article. Please read it in full. I am not supposed to quote more than 300 words without violating copyright law. I would love to post it all, but I can’t. You have got to open it and read it.

Reed and West write:

During the Reagan era, ultraconservative columnist James Kilpatrick, a notorious segregationist since the southern Massive Resistance campaign against the 1954 Brown decision, took up the right-wing attack on Social Security from a novel angle. He opposed the program as discriminatory against African Americans because black men were statistically less likely than whites to live long enough to receive the old-age benefits. That was likely the only time in his public life Kilpatrick expressed anything that might seem like sympathy for black Americans.

A decade or so later, many advocates of the welfare “reform” that ended the federal government’s 60-year commitment to provide income support for the indigent similarly couched their efforts in feigned concern to help poor black people break a supposedly distinctive “cycle of poverty.” Similar disingenuous tears have accompanied the federal government’s retreat since the 1990s from direct provision of affordable housing for the poor. Thus, a racist premise that there’s a special sort of black poverty became a way to spin cutting public benefits for poor people as a supposedly anti-racist, anti-poverty strategy.

Now, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, the charter-school industry and its advocates also make such claims, asserting that charters offer unique opportunities for poor African-American children. On those grounds, for example, The Washington Post recently attacked the Bernie Sanders campaign’s Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education, which, among other features, supports the NAACP’s call for a “moratorium on public funds for charter school expansion until a national audit has been conducted to determine the impact of charter growth in each state.” In a May 27 masthead editorial, the Post described charterization as a civil-rights issue, claiming that charter schools can remedy the “most enduring—and unforgivable—civil rights offense in our country today [which] is the consigning of so many poor, often minority children to failing schools.” To justify that claim, the editorial cites research indicating that black students in charter schools “gained an additional 59 days of learning in math and 44 days in reading per year compared with traditional school counterparts.”

Reed and West demonstrate that multiple studies show that charter schools do not outperform public schools, and they are more segregated than public schools.

They write:

As is a common occurrence in the privatization of public functions, lack of effective public oversight has provided the charter-school industry great opportunities for fraud and corruption. A 2019 national study by the Network for Public Education concluded among its findings that “Hundreds of millions of federal taxpayer dollars have been awarded to charter schools that never opened or opened and then shut down. Only a few months before the Washington Post editorial attacking Senator Sanders’s support for the NAACP’s call for a moratorium on charters, the newspaper published an investigative article exploring the nightmarish uncertainty that sudden closure of fly-by-night charter schools can inflict upon students and their parents…

The charter industry is about profiting off education. In addition to the officially for-profit companies involved, even many charter nonprofits are structured in ways that enable people and businesses to make money off them. Charter operators and affiliated entities have used public funds to obtain and privately own valuable urban real estate.

Moreover, administrative overhead for charter schools is often more than twice that of district schools, and charter executive salaries far exceed those of district administrators. A 2017 report found that in post-Katrina New Orleans, long touted as the Shangri-la of charterization, administrative spending per pupil had increased by 66 percent, while instructional spending had declined by 10 percent.

Bad as the out-and-out fraudsters and get-rich-quick schemers are, the most dangerous and destructive elements in the charter-school industry are the billionaire “philanthropists” like Bill Gates, Walmart’s Walton family, and Eli Broad, the hedge-fund operators, corporate chains, and their minions in think tanks and on op-ed pages, who, out of ideological and commercial motives, have for some time been plotting the privatization of public schools and the destruction of public education as anything more than an underfunded holding pen for the least profitable students….

Of course, teachers’ unions are the charter industry’s bête noire for a more old-school reason as well: There is no place for them in the business model. Charter-school teachers are paid less than teachers at traditional public schools, are less experienced, less likely to be certified, less satisfied with their jobs, have higher rates of turnover, and most important, are much more likely to be at-will employees who can be dismissed without cause. The charter-school industry has been able to impose these clearly less-desirable working conditions on teachers partly through taking advantage of young, idealistic people funneled from outfits like Teach For America. And the long campaign stigmatizing public-school teachers, as well as other public workers, and their unions as the equivalent of lazy welfare queens has enabled propagation of a narrative projecting the image of fresh-faced, energetic young elite-college graduates as more effective and desirable than experienced teachers…

Simply put, charter advocates’ sanctimonious bluster about charterization as a civil-rights issue is deeply disingenuous, and the attacks on Bernie Sanders as racist for joining the NAACP in opposing it are repugnant.