I’m often amazed at how anti-charter advocates don’t realize the full impact of the arguments they make. They say the darndest things.
Recently one charter opponent with whom I exchange views from time to time expressed his firmly held belief that only “involved” parents ever chose a charter for their child, leaving behind the poor, disadvantaged children of the unengaged for the traditional public schools to educate. He said expanding that charter public school system will invariably lead to a system of “have and have nots!”
The remarkable thing is that this individual, and all those who make a similar argument, are actually acknowledging their firmly held belief that charters are a better option and always will be. Think for a minute about what these folks are really saying. Putting their argument another way, these traditional public school-only advocates honestly believe that an engaged, informed parent who makes the effort to study which is the better option is much more likely to choose a charter than a traditional public school — what does that say about traditional public schools? They unwittingly assert that charters are seen as the better option by anyone who takes the time to do their research. You can’t raise the white flag any faster than that.
And here comes the irony: they’re dead wrong about traditional public schools being hopelessly inferior. If we lift the cap I believe that charters will not always be the almost uniformly better option they are today. One of the reasons I’m a staunch advocate for school choice is that I believe once traditional public schools must earn their enrollment each year, as charters do today, those trads will shake off the rust and become better schools. Many will become the schools of choice in the communities they are capable of being. Thus school choice is important for the heath of the entire public school system, not just charters.
The anti-charter crowd really ought to have more faith in the system they defend. I do.
*This post first ran on April 10, 2016 at Nat Morton’s School Choice blog here.
Nat Morton (not his real name) describes himself this way: “I’m a parent of both traditional and charter public school students. I would further add that beyond my kids’ enrollment in the public education system and some measure of volunteer work and charitable donations, I have no affiliation whatsoever with any public school, traditional or charter, nor any political advocacy group.” To read more about the author and to learn why he chooses to use an alias, click here.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?