Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Jeff Bryant: Charter Schools Are a Major Dividing Line for the 2020 Democratic Candidates—Education Fights in Pennsylvania Point the Way | Common Dreams Views

Charter Schools Are a Major Dividing Line for the 2020 Democratic Candidates—Education Fights in Pennsylvania Point the Way | Common Dreams Views

Charter Schools Are a Major Dividing Line for the 2020 Democratic Candidates—Education Fights in Pennsylvania Point the Way
Charter schools now cost Pennsylvania taxpayers over $1.8 billion annually and account for over 25 percent of the state’s basic education funding

Charter schools have finally broken into the national political dialogue, with presidential candidates in the Democratic Party proclaiming their stances on these schools. But a national debate about charters and “school choice” will be an exercise in empty rhetoric unless the candidates’ views are grounded in the real consequences of how charter schools and school choice affect communities.
Although much of the debate is stuck to a bumper sticker message about the need for families to have a choice to attend charter schools, few if any candidates seem willing to acknowledge providing families with an option to choose charters can come with considerable costs to everyone else in the community.
To understand those costs, consider Pennsylvania, where the costs of charter schools are most blatantly apparent but nevertheless representative of the cost of charters everywhere.
A ‘Perfect Storm’ Crushing the Middle Class
Across the state, charter schools are part of what Dan Doubet tells me is “a perfect storm of economic factors crushing down on middle- and working-class families.” Doubet is executive director of Keystone Progress, a Pennsylvania-based activist group focused on progressive issues and community organizing.
Pennsylvania passed its charter school law in 1997 and now has 179 charter schools enrolling 135,100 students, the sixth highest charter school enrollment in the nation. One in four of these students attends “cyber charters,” statewide schools that operate online.
Although charter schools are promoted to Pennsylvania families as a free option to look outside their neighborhood public schools, the costs of charters are borne by local school districts—and all the taxpayers who support them. Charter schools now cost CONTINUE READING: Charter Schools Are a Major Dividing Line for the 2020 Democratic Candidates—Education Fights in Pennsylvania Point the Way | Common Dreams Views

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