kitchen table math, the sequel: political opposition to suburban charter schools

Monday, July 19, 2010

political opposition to suburban charter schools

re: "Is there a political movement against charter schools for suburban kids?"

Actually there is political opposition to charter schools from other than the public school officials. In my town, there is one of the best public charter high schools in the country (probably the best lottery-admission charter high school). The demand for the education it provides is high, with the chance of winning the lottery and getting it varying from 0 to 15%, depending on which grade you are trying to enter at.

It is continually being attacked as being "elitist" (despite the lottery admission).

I've seen political opposition to charter schools from parents who feel that any school choice (whether charter or magnet) diminishes the local neighborhood school. They want those families to stay and devote their time and energy to improving the neighborhood school. There are plenty of people who feel that any school other than the neighborhood school is inherently elitist.
Yes, it does: the teachers' unions, the politicians whose elections are paid for by the teachers' unions, and throngs of "progressives" who believe that progress means closing loopholes of liberty that threaten to grow and weaken state control over education.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we have no shortage of "activists" who tell me that this "charter school business" is just the latest right-wing attempt to "destroy public education," "undo all the progress we've fought for for so long," "go backwards from a social justice curriculum to a right-wing traditional curriculum," and "maintain the status quo of oppression."

In an enlightened, progressive area like the Bay Area, a lot of people see any reversion of decision-making power from the state back to individuals, such as choice in any form in public schools, as the opposite of what they mean by progress.

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