McClaughry: The coming assault on charter schools

By John McClaughry

A Washington Post article by Jay Mathews shone some light on a battle certain to take place in the coming Joe Biden Administration. It will be over increasingly popular charter schools.

Charter schools are publicly funded alternatives to traditional public schools. They are chartered under state law by some supervising body other than the local school district. For example, a state chartering board or a college. They have to be accredited like traditional public schools.

Matthews presents research from the University of Arkansas showing that in 18 urban areas, charter schools did their job with an average of $7,800 fewer dollars than competing district schools. A Stanford study showed that in DC charter schools enrolled slightly more at-risk kids than traditional schools, but achieved significantly better results, and another DC study found that charters were getting those results with $14,000 per student less than unionized public schools.

But on anything to do with K-12 education, the two big teachers unions own the Democratic Party, in Vermont and in Congress. They hate charter schools, which are almost all non-union, they resent the better results that charters get, and they are pressing for a federal requirement that public school districts get a veto over any competing charter school. Where the federal government would find that power is beyond me.

Watch President Biden buy into this. It’s not about educating kids. It’s about protecting union power.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Education

3 thoughts on “McClaughry: The coming assault on charter schools

  1. Charter Schools are likely not the future of our education system. Technically, Charter Schools are simply permutations of the public-school monopoly and still beholden to significant one-size-fits-all State regulation. The major difference with Charter Schools is in the parental choice to send or not send their children to a given Charter School or traditional public school. And in Vermont, there is no Charter School legislation to speak of anyway.

    Homeschooling, including public-private school collaborations and ‘learning pods’, are the future of education. Parents incorporating various options, from part-time in-person school instruction (public and private), to customized school curricula using various facilities and teaching professionals in the ever-growing education marketplace, to actual in-home instruction with parents and small groups of students in the same grade or in multi-grades, led by an independent tutor or teacher, is the only educational structure that can reasonably function in today’s brave new world. As this new education free marketplace develops, as with all free markets, costs will decrease and student performance will greatly improve, reversing the dysfunctional trend of the last 50 years.

    Of course, special interest groups (you know who they are), will do everything they can to prevent this transformation. But the traditional educational model and its special interest groups simply can’t compete in today’s complex society.

  2. Consider, too, that Bill Mathis, an education consultant funded by the teacher unions, is also the chair of Vermont’s State Board of Education Legislation Committee.

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