These political contests hinge on two competing narratives about what charters are and who they serve. Opponents often paint charters as public-privates that skirt public accountability and select the most advantaged students for their schools. Clinton played to that perspective last year, saying, “most charter schools, they don’t take the hardest-to-teach kids, or, if they do, they don’t keep them.” Supporters often view charters as hope-filled alternatives to traditional public schools for historically disadvantaged students. As Democrats for Education Reform President Shavar Jefferies put it, “In communities of color throughout our country, public charter schools are providing pathways to college and careers that previously were not available.”
And we continued to see new reasons why monolithic national narratives about charter schools make little sense:
- A new charter school study finds higher test scores don’t always lead to higher wages. But the data are still quite limited. And they seem to vary from one state to the next, and among different types of charters.
- Ohio, home of an embattled, and often-criticized charter school sector, is also home to some high-performing charters that received much-needed money for facilities.
- Charter opponents try to invoke Michigan’s woes in the debate over a charter school cap in Massachusetts, where charters are higher-performing than almost any other state but political opposition is mounting.
- A new review of district-charter school collaborations by the Center on Reinventing Public Education found: “Many well-intentioned partnership efforts fall short of their full potential because districts see and treat the charter sector as a monolith, rather than a group of distinct, independent actors with diverse motivations, interests, and perspectives.”
Attempts to nationalize the charter school debate inevitably distort the picture of a movement that varies state by state, community by community, and school by school. And they obscure real lessons about how to serve children better under the new definition of public education.
Meanwhile… Continue Reading →