It’s not new news that progressive icon Howard Dean likes charter schools. Or that another big-name Democrat likes charter schools. Or that another big-name Democrat is all aboard with school choice (Cory Booker, Joe Trippi, Mike McCurry … ). But until that expanding list starts to dent the narrative that parental school choice is a Koch Brothers scheme, well, we’ll keep highlighting them.
The latest is what Dean said at a recent appearance at a college in Vermont. He told the audience his son taught for Teach for America in New Orleans, then continued:
“And his kids that he was teaching in the 9th grade … were essentially illiterate. Now this is 40 years after the civil rights movement, 40 years after African Americans and whites were supposed to have equal opportunity under the law. These kids had no equal opportunity. They were being starved by a corrupt school board, and a culture that had never valued them as much as they valued white kids. I was furious. I was so angry, in a moment I converted my whole philosophy of education, to we had to try anything we could to get inner city schools better.”
“And inner city schools are being reformed by people in your generation who are joining Teach for America. There are principals … tons of them, all over the country, who are not yet 30 years old. It’s the charter school movement. There’s some things I don’t like about the charter school movement. They’re not all created equal. For profit charters are clearly worse than non profit charters. But the charter school movement is transforming inner city education. It is getting kids through high school with diplomas that never would have had a chance even five years ago.”
Plenty of thoughtful folks would disagree with Dean about for-profits in education. And we can only hope his eye-opening led him to revisit his opposition to vouchers, too. But in the big picture, it’s clear Dean is representative of a trend: growing bipartisan support for a growing array of options. Continue Reading →