July 12, 2021

Shawgi Tell: Charter Schools: Oversight and Accountability Versus Validity and Legitimacy

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In this post at Dissident Voice, Tell looks at the distinction between public and charter schools.

The key question is: do charter schools have any valid or legitimate claim to public funds, resources, and facilities in the first place? With or without oversight, should charter schools be receiving a single public penny at all? What right do charter schools have to public wealth produced by workers?

The only way to settle these questions is to deeply appreciate the critical difference between public and private and then ascertain whether charter schools are public schools or not. It is well-known, for example, that simply declaring something is public 50 times a day does not automatically and spontaneously make it public.

The public/private question has been answered by a long list of charter school investigators: charter schools are not public schools, they are not even run by elected individuals and cannot levy taxes like public schools. Charter schools differ from public schools in many critical ways and function like privatized, marketized, corporatized entities. Unlike public schools, charter schools are not political subdivisions of the state; many operate openly as for-profit schools and many more are “managed” by for-profit corporations. Charter schools and public schools differ on organizational, legal, philosophical, and operational grounds. They are simply not the same. Thus, for example, charter schools are heavily driven by “free market” ideology. Charter school promoters see education as a commodity, not a social responsibility, and they treat parents and students as consumers and shoppers, not humans and citizens with rights that must be guaranteed in practice by government. A fend-for-yourself ethos pervades the crisis-prone charter school sector. It is no surprise that more than 3,000 charter schools have closed in just three decades. Chaos, anarchy, instability, and corruption are rampant in the highly segregated charter school sector.

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