Blaming Charters For The Weather

Blaming Charters For The Weather

A few things to note about Steve Bogira's Reader post (The impact of charter school expansion), which attempts (and fails) to blame charter schools for any number of ills affecting Chicago and its legacy school system.  The only thing Bogira doesn't blame charters for is the weather. But he comes pretty close.

*It's not charters' fault that so many white middle class parents (including teachers) don't send their kids to CPS schools -- a pattern that has been strong for years before charters came along.
*Racially and socioeconomically diverse (and progressive) charter schools are popping up all over the place in other cities like New York, DC, Denver, and LA -- but seem to be blocked in Chicago despite the need for more quality options in places like Rogers Park.
*It's not charters' fault that parents are choosing them over traditional neighborhood schools.  Nostalgia and sentimentality aside, the schools didn't seem like they were providing quality and safety - and it wasn't like they didn't have decades and billions to get better.
*Charters are much fewer in number than in many other big cities like LA, DC, New Orleans, where the percentages of kids in charters are well into the teens and higher.
*Charters are much more directly controlled by public agencies in Chicago, too.  The Board of Education has control over charter approvals in Chicago, whereas nonprofits, universities, and other entities do the job in most other places (including New York City).
Come on, guys.  There's been lots of fear-mongering and terribly effective anti-charter advocacy against non-union schools (which most charters are), but this is getting ridiculous. There's lots of blame to go around, and no shortage of problems to address.
Getting rid of charters wouldn't solve all that much -- things weren't that much better (arguably worse) for many families before charters came along.


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  • Wait a sec, Beardo just admitted that he thinks charters aren't very good- "Getting rid of charters wouldn't solve all that much -- things weren't that much better (arguably worse) for many families before charters came along". Why does he shill for charters if they are not better than real public schools who accept all students.

  • Alexander, again I question your reading comprehension skills. I read the Steve Bogira article in the link. Sorry but he did not blame charters for everything except the weather. The article essentially said charters are drawing students from traditional schools and providing cover for politicians to ignore the problems of urban education. In the grand scheme of things that one can criticize charters for, Bogira chose a fairly benign position. He mentioned nothing of the potential for profiteering, cherry-picking of students, draconian discipline practices, excessive suspensions and expulsions, high teacher turnover, incentivizing of test prep, lack of financial and managerial transparency, community resistance, and the many other issues that give charter critics pause.

    You brought other cities into the discussion - how about also mentioning the "education entrepreneurs" in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania who have faced accusations of financial malfeasance and fraud? Of course, we in Chicago have our old friend Juan Rangel to remind us of the potential of charter schools.

    If you've chosen to jump on the pro-reform bandwagon, fine - you're not the first. Wendy Kopp, Michelle Rhee, and many others have done the same. Goodness knows the big money and the PR machine are on that side of the battlefield (and this is definitely a battle - for the future of public education in this country). But you lose credibility when you try to pretend that 1) only union apologists are against charter schools and 2) there is not good reason to be highly skeptical of this wrong-headed move to privatize public education.

  • In reply to Born Skeptic:

    thanks for the comment, born skeptic -- though i think you're mostly just saying you disagree with me.

    i don't think the connection between charters and negative impacts on district schools is direct or clear, and i don't particularly care what kind of schools kids go to as long as they're getting a good education.

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