Persistent Desperation of Charter School Promoters

Promoters of privately-operated charter schools have continually sought to justify the existence and expansion of charter schools since their inception 30 years ago in Minnesota. In and of itself this is curious because if charter schools are supposedly so successful and so much better than public schools, as charter school promoters endlessly like to boast, then what need is there to constantly try to justify and defend the value and superiority of charter schools over public schools? Usually when something is excellent and has a great track record, it speaks for itself, stands on its own merit, and does not need to be defended every day.1

Recently, the news has been filled with charter school headlines like these:

State Sen. Melissa Melendez: Charter school moratorium limits options for parents, KUSI Newsroom, October 14, 2021.

A reason to support charter schools, The Dominion Post. October 13, 2021.

Stop denying hope to NYC kids, and lift the evil charter-school cap, New York Post, October 11, 2021.

An Unexpected Reason to Support Charter Schools, Bloomberg, October 9, 2021.

All charter schools are public schools, Bedford Gazette, October 1, 2021.

Charter schools boomed during the pandemic, Axios. September 22, 2021. 2

While such news items are always filled with extensive disinformation, bold-faced distortions, and easy-to-debunk statements, the biggest and most obvious reason for this stubborn desperation to defend and promote privately-operated charter schools is that a growing number of people, including certain factions and coalitions in the political arena, are either no longer supporting charter schools or they are actually coming out in opposition to them. It is also the case that more public school boards and superintendents are increasingly opposing charter schools with more vigor. This is a trend that is likely to keep growing as privately-operated charter schools, which often perform poorly and are plagued by corruption, siphon even more funds from public schools.

Another feature of current conditions is that more education advocacy groups are becoming more conscious of the political and economic motivations of charter school promoters and the many problems plaguing charter schools. As a result, they are taking stronger stands against charter schools and in defense of public schools and the public interest. To be sure, charter school promoters, despite billions of dollars at their disposal and powerful political connections, remain on the defensive; they recognize that there is no justification for the existence, let alone expansion, of charter schools.

From the perspective of workers, the economy, the national interest, and the public interest, things never go well when major enterprises, programs, sectors, and institutions are privatized and handed over to major owners of capital. Privatization solves no problems, it actually intensifies existing problems and introduces a whole host of new serious problems while enriching a handful of people. For the many profound problems associated with privatization, one can simply enter “stop privatization” into any popular internet search engine to view endless articles, reports, and analyses from a large range of organizations from around the world. Put simply, the parasitic extortion of the public purse by major owners of capital cannot be prettified as a “win-win” for everyone. The public never benefits from privatization. Privatization is retrogressive.

Those who have much to gain financially from privately-operated charter schools are not concerned about facts, truth, reason, or the public interest. They are self-serving to the extreme and committed to wrecking education and public opinion while enriching themselves. Charter school advocates will always repeat worn-out irrational claims and assertions in the hopes that people will dogmatically internalize such claims and assertions and avoid engaging in a conscious act of finding out what is really going on. Charter school promoters do not like to be challenged. Fortunately, charter school disinformation and incoherence have not conquered the consciousness of many out there, which is why opposition to charter schools, which are segregated and run by unelected individuals, will keep growing. The charter school movement has never not been vulnerable.

  1. Currently, there are roughly 7,400 charter schools in the U.S. Over the past 30 years, 5,000 charter schools have closed for financial malfeasance, mismanagement, and/or poor academic performance. See: “5,000 Charter Schools Closed in 30 Years”, September 18, 2021. []
  2. More than 95% of the increase in charter school enrollment during the pandemic took place in cyber charter schools, which are notorious for extremely poor performance and endless scandals. Many brick-and-mortar charter schools actually lost students to poor-performing and corrupt cyber charter schools during the pandemic. See: “Enrollment jumps in charter schools — with big gains in worst-performing part of charter sector,” October 15, 2021. []
Shawgi Tell is author of the book Charter School Report Card. He can be reached at stell5@naz.edu.. Read other articles by Shawgi.