Sunday, May 6, 2012

Charter Schools - Opinion

By Kristopher Hite

When I say I do not like charter schools I mean it. I mean it because I see their proliferation as a shift towards privatization in general. I perceive privatization as an all-encompassing ideological philosophy of many politicians; Margaret Spellings, George W. Bush, and Donald Rumsfeld to name a few. I agree with the Democrats who were outraged at W for slipping in "school vouchers" to his last re-signings of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

From the Washington Post -
"Democrats in Congress assailed the plan -- which also would allow low-performing schools to override union contracts or become charter schools despite state laws limiting their creation -- and expressed concern that the politically charged proposals could delay the reauthorization, which is scheduled for this year." ~ from July 2007. 
I see school vouchers as a more extreme version of charter schools - a move away from public schooling as traditionally understood. While reading about NCLB I came across several provisions of the act leading to increased number of charter schools.

"A fifth year of failure results in planning to restructure the entire school; the plan is implemented if the school fails to hit its AYP targets for the sixth year in a row. Common options include closing the school, turning the school into a charter school, hiring a private company to run the school, or asking the state office of education to run the school directly."
It seems as though all roads out of NCLB lead to a privatized world which upsets me. To me, many of the most powerful Republicans somehow swoon over the teachings of a man with whom I vehemently disagree - Milton Friedman.

From the school voucher wiki -
 "Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman argued for the modern concept of vouchers in the 1950s, stating that competition would improve schools and cost efficiency. The view further gained popularity with the 1980 TV broadcast of Friedman's series Free to Choose for which volume 6 was devoted entirely to promoting "educational freedom" through programs like school vouchers. In some Southern states during the 1960s, school vouchers were used as a method of perpetuating segregation. In a few instances, public schools were closed outright and vouchers were issued to parents. The vouchers, in many cases, were only good at privately segregated schools, known as segregation academies. Today, all modern voucher programs prohibit racial discrimination."

This brings me full circle to my stance on charter schools vouchers and NCLB in general. I perceive NCLB as a well intentioned act of congress carrying a Trojan horse filled with little pro-privatization Milton Friedman time-bombs. I see these privatization ideals as detrimental to communities throughout our educated democracy.

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Unknown said...

Not all charter schools are created alike. In our district, our charter school works within all the same rules of our public school system re: budget and layoffs, but they are able to get some extra grant money. So, there is a difference between charter school that work within the framework of a school district and those that do not. The government has screwed up public education so badly, I can't really fault parents for seeking the best options for their kids in their area. We should talk more about this - I have many opinions after being part of the public school system as a parent for for 8 years now.

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt that there are bad Charter Schools that need to be shut down. One piece that is missing from this is the fact that for many children, Charter schools are the only option that leaves them with a fighting chance. Larger public schools are not able to offer everything for everyone. Depending on the learning styles of the individual, Charter schools specializing in brain based education with smaller class sizes and special programs provide students with opportunity to be successful. In our County, Charter schools act under the same set of stipulations that the district schools and are held to an even higher standard in different ways. Charter schools are not really a movement toward privatization, but an option for students in need of something different.