No, the real issue here is about the true purpose of education, and whether continuing to support two separate but unequal, and inequitable, school systems is doing anything to improve education for all children. By any objective measure, the answer is a resounding “NO!”
The charter lobby has attempted, through spending millions of dollars on PR and marketing, to redefine the purpose of education from one about producing well-rounded citizens who are capable of making valuable contributions to our society and leading fulfilling lives, to a business-driven agenda of producing workers for corporate America. The latter “purpose” now drives much of our state and federal education legislation, which is rife with references to “21st Century Skills,” and insuring that high school graduates are stamped as being “college and career-ready”.
This is a radical repurposing of a public goal to meet the needs of private corporations, and is echoed in the mission and “vision” statements of the leading charter school management companies:
Success Academy: “Build exceptional, world-class public schools that prove children from all backgrounds can succeed in college and life; and advocate across the country to change public policies that prevent so many children from having access to opportunity.”
This is less a mission statement than the beginning sentence of a business plan. At Success Academy, children are referred to as “scholars,” and are judged on a one-size-fits-all scale: your value as a student is determined by your test scores, and eventually, your “hirability.” These goals are accomplished through adhering to uncommonly strict and harsh behavior management strategies, and by establishing an authoritarian classroom environment that is focused more on controlling students’ actions than on engaging them as learners.