America’s Charter Schools Have A Commitment Problem

But modern charters are not public schools, and they do not make a public school commitment to stay and do the work over the long haul. They are businesses, and they make a business person’s commitment to stick around as long as it makes business sense to do so. That does not make them evil, but it does make them something other than a public school. And it underlines another truth ― students are not their number-one priority.

I think the perfect metaphor for charter schools are those Magic Eye posters from the 90s. If you stare from a very particular angle, cross your eyes, and focus intently only on what’s right in front of you, you get to see the sailboat.

From a conservative point of view, charter schools are perfect examples of how unregulated markets can improve an industry. Competition is good! The better schools will win and the bad schools will close!

But if you look at charters from any other angle, the problems become crystal clear. What happens to the kids when the schools close? What affect does for-profit financing have on the curriculum, or the design and furnishing of the building? Of the nutritiousness of the kids’ lunches? What does it mean when schools play roles in communities more like Walmarts and less like decades-old public institutions.

When I cross my eyes and look at charter schools from the conservative angle, I get it. They seem great. But it’s now obvious there are a hundred problems which piggyback on the one single solution they offer.

I support higher governmental support for our current public schools. Give our teachers huge pay raises. Double the funding for educational infrastructure. Care about the kids. Forget about “markets”.