Reminder: Education Is Not a Damn Marketplace
And charter schools are not working.
Here's a debate I'd like to see pursued vigorously within the Democratic Party. (Hey, everybody else gets to complain about this, why not me?)
Resolved: No matter how noble the original motives, public school "reform" as pursued by private interests in general, and by plutocratic dilettantes in particular, has been an abject failure and an almost limitless vista of low-rent scams and high-tech brigandage.
Through the inexhaustible Diane Ravitch, we have found several recent examples of evidence for the affirmative here. First, there was this account in The New York Times about how the ragged remnants of the Detroit public schools were handed over to the charter-industrial complex willy nilly, and how that notion has crashed and burned in spectacular, if entirely predictable, fashion.
Michigan leapt at the promise of charter schools 23 years ago, betting big that choice and competition would improve public schools. It got competition, and chaos.
Detroit schools have long been in decline academically and financially. But over the past five years, divisive politics and educational ideology and a scramble for money have combined to produced a public education fiasco that is perhaps unparalleled in the United States.
While the idea was to foster academic competition, the unchecked growth of charters has created a glut of schools competing for some of the nation's poorest students, enticing them to enroll with cash bonuses, laptops, raffle tickets for iPads and bicycles. Leaders of charter and traditional schools alike say they are being cannibalized, fighting so hard over students and the limited public dollars that follow them that no one thrives.
Detroit now has a bigger share of students in charters than any American city except New Orleans, which turned almost all its schools into charters after Hurricane Katrina. But half the charters perform only as well, or worse than, Detroit's traditional public schools.
Of course, reply the folks on the other side, this was all done with The Kids in mind. Let's talk to Damian and his mom, shall we?
She enrolled her older son, Damian, at the charter school across from her house, where she could watch him walk into the building. He got all A's and said he wanted to be an engineer. But the summer before seventh grade, he found himself in the back of a classroom at a science program at the University of Michigan, struggling to keep up with students from Detroit Public Schools, known as the worst urban district in the nation. They knew the humanCharter Schools Not Performing Better Than Traditional in Detroit, Florida, Georgia: