JACKSON — Mississippi is on the brink of passing legislation to permit privately-managed charter schools to open. This is a bad idea. Charter schools have been in existence for twenty years, and grand claims are made for them, but don’t believe the hype.
I live in New York City, where our mayor has opened over 100 charter schools. As they expand, they cause fragmentation in communities, as charters and public schools squabble over space and resources. Instead of people working together around common goals, they are jousting over students, resources, and facilities. Critics say that charters get preferential treatment, because of their wealthy backers. Some charter operators are expanding aggressively into neighborhoods where there is intense community opposition.
When charters close, either because of financial mismanagement or awful academic results, the students are left stranded. We see that now in New Orleans, where the closure of the Sojourner Truth Charter school has left students without teachers and without a meaningful education. In some ways, it’s like when Walmart comes to a region and the mom-and-pop stores; if Walmart