CURMUDGUCATION blog: Charter Villains


Charter Villains

Posted by Peter Greene: 05 Jul 2016

It is one of the reliable tropes of the ed debates (isn’t it fun that we’ve been at this so long we now have reliable tropes).  After some negative charter publicity, some reformsters will step up to offer a smattering of defense with a side order of “Why does the media pick on us?”

Alexander Russo offers a weak-sauced rendition of this old standard at Washington Monthly, where he tries to defend Rocketship Academy againstthe NPR piece from Anya Kamenetz. He thinks that Kamenetz did not include enough happy talk from the Rocketship press kit, though most of his complaint is focused on Kamenetz’s use of the word “company” to describe Rocketship. He says this term is “controversial,” a term that is “extremely sensitive” in the education world, but which should really just be used for “private, non-profit businesses.” He notes that unnamed “defenders” of the piece say that non-profits “often rely on for-profit companies for services and materials and that the difference in tax status is unimportant” which is a bit of a mis-statement, as this defender would say that non-profit charters still function like businesses. They are non-profits like modern hospitals are non-profit, as in , non-profit technically by virtue of the fact that there are no stockholders. But Russo is far too savvy and informed not to know that many, many, many non-profit charters have found ways to make lots of people rich.

But more importantly, we think of a charter school as a “company” or a business precisely because charter supporters have all along claimed that their business-focused nature is part of what makes them better. Eli Broad started his Faux Superintendent Academy precisely because he thinks that public education has a business problem, not an education problem.

In short, it wasn’t the opponents of charters who brought up the idea of thinking of charters as businesses. They did that themselves.

This is a frequent feature of the picked-on charter trope. Charter defenders pretend that the oppression they’re feeling just came out of the blue, and wasn’t the predictable outcome of actions they themselves took.

Neerav Kingsland, charter champion on New Orleans, tries his hand at the genre with “Who is the Villain? Why?” which covers the NPR Rocketship piece as well as Kate Taylor’s NYT piece about a Brooklyn school being forced to co-locate and Kate Zernike’s brutal look at Detroit charters. He breaks each piece down, doing a nice job of parsing the language used to indicate that charters are the villains in these stories.  And this leads him to a question:

Why do they  go out of their way to find a villain other than the very schools that are currently failing children?

And there’s your problem right there, charter folks. Because the better question to ask is, “Why is nit necessary to create a narrative with villains in it?” And charter fans can find the person to ask by just looking in the mirror.

I’ll get back to that. But first, Kingsland offers three possible explanations… follow the link below please…

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: Charter Villains

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