Charter Schism Explainer
The charter world (which is mostly all that's to what we mean by "education reform") has been wrestling and fracturing and considering serious marital counseling over the past year or so. This bit of a crisis has been exacerbated since, oh, November. I've been drawn into conversations about this schism several times in the last week, which means it's time to write a simple explainer.
|Feel free to grab some popcorn and watch|
Warning: the goal here will be to make this issue simple, so I'm going to strip out all nuance and grossly oversimplify. I am also not going to get sidetracked into where I think they're wrong, misguided, or twisty-- you have the whole rest of the blog to read my thoughts on that. That's not the focus here today. Just so you know that going in. Let the questioning begin:
Aren't all education reformers on the same side of everything?
No. Lumping all reformsters together is a mistake, just like lumping all of their opponents together.
So what are the two camps when it comes to charters?
We can divide charter supporters into two groups.
The social justice crowd wants charters as an engine of equity and opportunity. They see non-wealthy non-white students, mostly in urban centers, as desperately in need of alternatives. Urban school, schools that serve the poor, schools that are tied up in institutional racism-- these schools should be helping students to rise, and instead are seen as part of the mechanism that holds those students down. So social justice charteristas want an alternative, a choice, a place that isn't the "failing public school" to send their child.
The free market crowd believes that a free market approach to education is just inherently better. They believe it will lead to quality through competition. They believe that businessmen will do a better job of running schools, better meaning both "producing better graduates" and "producing profitable outcomes and good ROI."
They worked essentially on two different problems. For social justice charteristas, the problem was that too many non-wealthy non-white families couldn't get into a good school. For free marketeers, the problem was that the education sector wasn't functioning on free market principles. They were CURMUDGUCATION: Charter Schism Explainer: