I'm baaaaaaack.

Hoarding All the Glitter Since 2001.

25 July 2012

Believing the Lie

Charter school proponents often turn to a delightful interpretation of market forces when extolling the benefits of their schools.  Parents are informed consumers who shop for the best school option, and the market power forces every school to be better through the power of competition.

This is ridiculous, of course.  We mandate schooling; it is not some kind of luxury add-on for which we shop.  Our consumers are variably informed, and our charter schools are not interested in all shoppers anyway.

Of course, often all cutthroat competition does is cut a lot of throats, not better all who are forced to compete.  And as the article shows, this isn't a fair competition.  The existence of charter schools does not empower real public schools through all-American competition; it weakens them.  While charters compete for the most-informed parents, public schools educate all comers.  While charter schools benefit from extra private funding, public schools lose funding - and not only through enrollment cuts, but also from the damage perpetuated on our economy by some of the very same proponents of charter education.

I don't believe that charter school champions were necessarily ever that interested in improving school quality broadly.  They certainly don't have the means or methods to do so.  What they have accomplished is supporting the dismantling of broad public education in the United States.

The failure of some competitors is to be expected in a free market system.  It's a little harder to accept when that failure dooms so many children.  It's time to start challenging the idea that schools are a commodity to be sliced, diced, and sold.  They are a public trust for all of us.

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