The Charter Debate: A false dichotomy

one-way-street-1113973_640When any issue is framed as ‘good vs evil’, one has to wonder if truth is just inconvenient and ignored.  In this Slate article, the authors call the charter vs public school debate a ‘false binary’.


The debate is framed as– charters do not care about kids, they care about money.  Public schools, on the other hand, care only about protecting  inept teachers and their unions.

The truth that is emerging in the debate is, of course, that some charters help struggling kids succeed, particularly if they receive substantial private support.  This is a model that does not scale up.   The whole concept of charters bridging the achievement gap with under paid, inexperienced teachers is flawed.  The authors suggest that the premise of sending poorly prepared teachers into schools radically segregated by race and class should never be viewed as an acceptable solution to racial and economic equality.

What then is the solution?  Housing segregation is real, especially in large inner cities.  Closing those public schools and bringing in privately run charters changes nothing.  It is just easier to replace ineffective staff with inexperienced, frustrated staff.  This is not a recipe for success.

What then can happen?  Dislocating thousands of people to break up concentrations of poor people in depressed areas is fraught with its own problems.  Building subsidized housing in gated communities is not going to happen. This too is a false dichotomy.  We need to look at the kind of communities we want to have.  Should they be racial and/or economic silos?  If not, federal, state and local housing and economic policies have to encourage the diversity and access to opportunity that help those silos fade.  How this can happen is a conversation that communities are beginning to have.



Posted in Achievement, Charter Schools, Civil Rights, Public Education, Reform, State and Local government, US Government.

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