Nonprofit Newswire | Failing Grade for Charter School Discourse

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June 18, 2010; Source: Huffington Post | Very few people are public critics of charter schools, given their bipartisan support and, unlike private schools, their public school status. But Hofstra University professor Alan Singer pulls no punches in his critique. This article responds to questions he received in response to his June 8 Huffpo article provocatively titled, “Charter Vultures Circle the Public Schools.”

Singer’s June 8 article made the following points: that the critics of public schools like Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others are products of elite private schools, send their kids to elite private schools, and have no solid experience with public schools; that they’re driven ideologically and politically—“blindly wedded to the free market economic approach that produced the economic disasters that continue to plague the global economy;” and that charter schools “virtually equal corruption.”

As Singer’s June 18 defense shows, overreaching arguments don’t help. Examples of corrupt charter schools no more characterize all charter schools than examples of corrupt nonprofits characterize all nonprofits. Making the leap from the logical and explainable charge of privatization to examples of profiteering doesn’t work. For people who might agree with parts of Singer’s analysis of charters, broad brush charges undermine the argument (for example, his contention that “For the Black politicians, the charters replace the now defunct community school boards as sources of patronage. High quality education is at best an afterthought.”). And using epithets for charter school supporters (“Mayor Michael ‘Moneybags’ Bloomberg” and schools chancellor “Joel ‘Clueless’ Klein”) lowers the quality of the political discourse.— Rick Cohen

  • Tom Grinley

    It is fortunate that Alan Singer “pulls no punches” in his critique because that makes it easier to see it for the radical rant that it is. Much of Singer’s work rants about “elite public schools” and celebrates promoting radical social activism in public schools. Perhaps Singer’s real issue with charters is their focus on academics rather than social activism?