Bias Against Charter Schools
I read “The Patron Saint (and Scourge) of Lost Schools” in New York Magazine and found myself irritated with journalist Jeff Coplon because of his bias against charter schools, which he referred to as “quasi-public schools.” Charter schools aren’t “quasi” public; they are public.
Coplon writes about charter schools: “Can privately run schools justly take public money while excluding the most vulnerable students? And should children be pushed to their limits—and beyond—to prove they can best their suburban counterparts on some flawed and arbitrary exam?”
Again, charter schools are not privately run! They are public schools. I don’t know enough about the school leader described in Coplon’s article, Eva Moskowitz, or her schools, Success Charter Network, to comment on the exclusion of students, but I definitely take issue with calling standardized tests “flawed and arbitrary.”
This article is another example of taking a charter school’s enormous success (the students’ test scores were incredible) and completely undercutting that success by saying the tests don’t mean a thing.
Coplon also writes about standardized tests: “Despite their well-documented defects, these assessments are the make-or-break barometer of a school’s ‘accountability’ and a vital marketing tool for high-performing charter networks. Lofty numbers bedazzle authorizers and lure fat checks from foundations and trustees.”
If the “defects” are so “well-documented”, then why doesn’t Coplon back up his assertions with some evidence? If people truly believe, like Coplon does, that test scores do not demonstrate a school’s “accountability”, then they assume that parents would be just as comfortable enrolling their child in a school where 0% of students tested proficient in English as one in which 100% of students tested proficient in English.
And what’s so wrong about foundations and trustees signing “fat checks” to support schools? They are trying to help children who come from poor, uneducated families succeed in life. Oh, the horror.
Did Coplon notice how every family member quoted in his article was absolutely thrilled that his/her child was enrolled in a Success Charter Network school?
For example: “Some might deem this excessive, but Ashley’s grandmother, Yvette Rolack, was delighted with the extra attention—and with Ashley’s pair of 3’s. ‘They really stayed with the kids to help them get where they needed to go,’ she says. ‘I am a security guard, and I like my job, but I want my granddaughter to excel and not just stand at the door and nod her head and give directions. I want more for her.’
Unfortunately, opponents of charter schools want less for her because they fight to protect, uphold, and make excuses for a failing inner-city public school system rather than offering children and their families choices and opportunities.
I, quite frankly, like Eva Moskowitz’s quote that some people “believe in choice for themselves, but they don’t believe in choice for other people. To me, that is really fundamental to social justice: to have choices in life.”
Let the people, not the politics, choose.
Here’s the article in its entirety–worth reading despite the bias, in my opinion: