Sunday, July 24, 2016

Carol Burris: Why charter schools get public education advocates so angry - The Washington Post

Why charter schools get public education advocates so angry - The Washington Post:

Why charter schools get public education advocates so angry

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There are thousands of charter schools in the United States that enroll a few million students. While they are just a fraction of the number of kids who attend school, the charter movement has been a key part of the choice movement and has affected public education in many ways. It has been 25 years since the charter movement began, and it has not evolved exactly as supporters had hoped, with too little oversight of too many charters.
In this post, Carol Burris, a former New York high school principal who is now executive director of the nonprofit Network for Public Education, explains why putting the word “public” in front of “charter school” — which are funded with tax dollars — is “an affront” to people for whom public education is a mission. Burris was named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and in 2013, the same organization named her the New York State High School Principal of the Year. She has been chronicling botched school reform efforts in her state for years.
By Carol Burris
When Hillary Clinton mentioned public charter schools in her speech to the National Education Association earlier this month, she was greeted with some boos. Her remarks about sharing “what works” seemed innocuous enough.  So why did the teachers in attendance react so strongly?
The obvious answer is the charter sector’s distaste for collective bargaining.  But the antipathy directed at charters runs deeper than that. Charters, regardless of their original intent, have become a threat to democratically governed, neighborhood public schools, and questions about their practices, opacity and lack of accountability are increasing as their numbers grow.
Placing the adjective “public” in front of “charter” is an affront to those who deeply believe in the mission of public schools. Charter schools are privately run academies funded by the taxpayer. Many are governed by larger corporations, known as CMOs. Some are for-profit; others are not for profit yet still present financial “opportunities.”
Democratic school governance is viewed as an obstacle by many charter school devotees. When addressing the California Charter School Association in March 2015, Netflix billionaire Reed Hastings opined that school boards were obsolete and should be replaced with a system of large non-profit corporations.
Yet the governance of public schools is one of the purest and most responsive forms of American democracy. Sunshine laws and public meetings allow citizens to have a say in how their children are educated and how their tax dollars are spent. Even in cities with mayoral control, there is some limited voice through the election of a mayor. In 2010, the then-D.C. Why charter schools get public education advocates so angry - The Washington Post:

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