New York Magazine Fails to Rescue Charter Schools

As the failures of charter schools across the country multiply, and as more people become aware of these failures, the rich and their media have intensified their relentless disinformation campaign about charter schools. They are deeply dismayed that exposure of charter school problems and criticism of charter schools is becoming more mainstream and common place. Fewer people seem to be buying the charter school hype.

On September 6, 2017 New York Magazine chimed into the news fray with a short article on charter schools with the confused title: “Charter Schools Are Losing the Narrative But Winning the Data.” New York Magazine maintains that charter schools really are good schools overall but somehow this “fact” does not always get captured and communicated well because it is eclipsed by many “anecdotes” about the failures of charter schools.

New York Magazine specifically laments some of the harsh but correct characterizations of charter schools found in some New York Times articles, especially those that report on the chaos and anarchy in the charter school sector in Michigan. It wants readers to abandon their consciousness and believe that charter schools are generally fine. Indeed, the troubled charter school movement is, according to New York Magazine, “performing extremely well.”

New York Magazine uses the ideological device of “data journalism” verses “narrative journalism” to introduce confusion into the consciousness of readers. It wants readers to believe that so-called objective and meaningful data in the form of scores on curriculum-narrowing high-stakes standardized tests produced by for-profit companies show that charter schools are “successful,” but unfortunately a “narrative” has taken hold that has cast a dark cloud over charter schools and caused doubt about charter schools in the minds of many.

Disinformation refers to the deliberate distortion of information for the purpose of causing people to ideologically and politically abandon their own social consciousness, experience, and interests, and to instead adopt ideas, views, and an outlook that directly violates their interests, namely the ideas, views, and outlook of capital-centered interests. Confusion, amnesia, diversion, dogmatism, and anti-consciousness are some key features of disinformation.

New York Magazine adds an additional layer of confusion by making a false distinction between “regulated charter schools,” which are supposedly “good,” verses “less regulated charter schools,” which are supposedly “bad.” This goes hand in hand with more confusion that charter schools are “good” when they are “less private.”

“Charter Schools Are Losing the Narrative But Winning the Data” is really an exercise in multi-layered disinformation. It shows the muddled and desperate thinking and efforts of the rich and their media to preserve and expand pay-the-rich schemes like charter schools in the context of a continually failing economy and discredited political system.

It is important to appreciate the dangerous and reckless nature of this disinformation because it reveals the irrationalism and impunity with which the political and economic elite operate and the extent to which they will go to prevent the improvement of schools and society. The lesson here for the broad American polity is that if you want institutions and a society that serve the general interests of society, then those depriving us of our power to decide our affairs must be deprived of their power to violate our rights. This tiny privileged elite is a historically superfluous class unable and unwilling to solve any problems confronting society. They are unfit to govern. For them, no interests exist outside their own egocentric interests.

The “choice” is not between the chaos, anarchy, and violence of charter schools verses public schools mandated to fail by the rich and their state through testing, chronic under-funding, racist policies, and endless media demonization.

A modern, fully-funded public school system available to all everywhere is the call of the times. Parents and students should not be treated as consumers who have to be “chosen” by a “good” or “bad” charter school—not in 2017.

Modern society cannot move forward without a mass public education system under full and exclusive public control.

Shawgi Tell is author of the book Charter School Report Card. He can be reached at Read other articles by Shawgi.