Here's a great charter school take-down by Diane Ravitch from the Washington Post:
Education historian Diane Ravitch, a professor at New York University and author of the best-selling “Death and Life of the Great American School System.”
If charters are public schools and receive public money, why should they object to oversight hearings by a legally constituted body of the New York State Senate?
I am a historian of education, so allow me to provide a brief overview of the origin of charter schools. Charter schools were first envisioned in 1988 by two men who didn’t know one another. Albert Shanker, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, had the idea, as did Professor Ray Budde of the University of Massachusetts.
Both of them thought that public school teachers could get permission from local authorities to open a small experimental school and then focus on the neediest students. The school would recruit students who had dropped out and who were likely to drop out. It would seek new ways to motivate the most challenging students and bring whatever lessons they learned back to public schools, to make them better able to educate these youngsters.
The original vision of charter schools was that they would help strengthen public schools, not compete with them.
By 1993, Shanker turned against his own idea. He concluded that charter schools had turned into a form of privatization that was not materially different from vouchers. From then until his death in 1996, he lumped vouchers and charters together as a threat to public education and a distraction from real school reform.
Today, there are 5,000 charter schools with 1.5 million students. This is 3% of the nation’s public school enrollment of 50 million. In New York City, charters enroll 30,000 students, or about 3% of the city’s enrollment of 1.1 million.
Charters vary widely in quality.
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