Charter Schools vs. Public Schools

A friend and I were discussing the differences between Public Schools and Charter schools and she sent me these two articles:

I responded to them below:

Interesting articles and I appreciate the alternate viewpoint. I think some of the assumptions made in each show that both authors have a left-leaning ideology through which they are evaluating the situation in public education that we are facing. Admittedly, I tend to resist left-leaning ideology, not because it has bad intentions, but because of impracticality on many issues as well as conflict with my personal ethical and philosophical viewpoints.

Some might say that the authors of the two articles you sent me would rather achieve complete equality in every area of life even if it means less choices for parents, lower testing scores, and lower but equal outcomes overall. The differences between “progressive” and “conservative” ideologies can be discussed at length and has a history that goes back centuries to the enlightenment and Burke and Paine (See However, that is for another discussion. In the case of education (and many other things), I think that one-size-fits-all approach is bad for teachers and students alike and that seems to be where the anti-charter school movement is heading. Some public schools do work well. Some don’t. just like some charter schools do and some don’t.

I recommend reading these two articles (from a more right leaning source and grassroots organization for NC policy) in response to both of your articles:

–          Response to “segregation” argument of WAPO article:

–          Response to the narrative of “underfunding” in NC low –income areas:

Two points to respond to:

WAPO article says: “One problem is that disadvantaged students have less of a chance to attend a charter school. First, they or their parents have to be plugged in enough to know which are the good charter schools and motivated enough to apply.”

–          How can the state guarantee that parents are motivated to get their kids into a better school. I agree that parents should be. However, if some parents are TERRIBLE or don’t care about their child’s education or are too busy to worry about it, should that be a reason to stop caring parents (both rich and poor black and white) from researching and finding the best school for their children? Not obviously.  Also, all anyone needs to do if they want to find an option or research the charter school situation is to go to a public library and get on the internet and start researching. The statement above, if focusing of poor african-american parents, is not giving them enough credit and is a bit condescending.

–          To another point, the article seems to insinuate that it knows the motivation of “white parents” without actually providing any testable data to support it. How do you measure the motivation of someone. They are simply assuming that parents who are white happen to also be racist if they want to send their kids to a charter school that happens to have higher populations of white kids. When discussing racial segregation the point that seems to be missing is if the schools that are segregated are doing well. If they are, then the charter schools are fulfilling their “charter” regardless of the racial segregation argument. The segregation argument is a separate argument in my mind.

–          Also the title of the argument is simply ridiculous hearkening back to the civil war and slavery.

The other article says, “Two very different ideas of how to educate our children are at odds in this country. One says that the market is the most equitable way to distribute goods, even public goods like education, and that failing schools should open and close like businesses. The other says that failure isn’t an option.”” – See more at:

–          This seems to present a bit of a false dichotomy between the two sides as well as a zero-sum game of all or nothing.  People who are pro-charter school are not necessarily eager to see all public schools fail (although, it seems that proponents of public schools wouldn’t mind all charter schools failing).  They simply want options.

–          Schools including both public and charter have MANY parameters and are more highly regulated compared to an everyday business that can open and close overnight. Also, communities and local governments alike have much more vested interest in keeping a school open then a run of the mill business.

–          In a society that allows its citizens to charter their own path, failure is an option. This is the same in school. We cannot force a person to make good life choices or care about doing well in school as much as we try. People can fail on purpose and on accident. This topic of failure seems to be an ideological barrier between the left and the right. Where the right would offer community support and individual charity and good will to help those in society who fail, the left tries to force success and thinks that all failure is a result of some institutional/external cause outside of the individual that can be tinkered with and fixed.

–          If public schools are the only option then failure is NOT an option at all because there are no other options. But when there are more than one option then some educational options will obviously do better and the better institutions should attract more funding as the results improve.


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