For years, free-market advocates have been pushing for the admittance of charter schools in the state of Washington. They're public schools paid for with taxpayer money, say their proponents. But charter schools are far from that simple. Charter schools are causing extreme conflict in school districts across the country.
In New York, charter schools are encroaching on traditional public schools' space, literally. Those rooms that used to be your traditional public school's literacy rooms? This year they serve as the new charter school's principal's office. You see, space is limited in NYC. Sometimes when charters open, they push into traditional public school space, their rooms, their cafeterias, their gyms. More than that, charters seem to receive preferential treatment from many corporate-minded school districts. Watch Brian Jones, a teacher activist in NYC, explain to Bloomberg's Panel for Education Policy last week why the community is outraged by the way their traditional public schools are being treated in comparison to charter schools. (At the bottom of the clip it says, "Dec. 14. 2001." That's a typo - should read, "Dec. 14. 2011.")
Go here to learn more about how some banks have been using charter schools to make profit.
Watch the clip below from Los Angeles earlier this year on how some community members have felt the opening of charter schools is cheating their children out of a quality education.
Last week, the Miami Herald printed the last part of a three-piece series on the demographic mismatch being created between charter schools and traditional public schools that has real implications for increasing future socio-economic disparity.
What seems clear to me is that charter schools offer an immense opportunity for us to reshape the way we educate our students in this country. What is also clear, however, is that if charters are not closely regulated, they will do far more to destroy our democracy than they will to improve it. As we continue to consider this issue in the state of Washington, we need to be asking ourselves how much we believe in democratic education and how much we trust our government to regulate charter schools in advancing that aim.