Charter politics

Big high-tech donors, led by Bill Gates, have allied with black and Latino leaders to push charter school initiative in Washington state, notes the New York Times. But the unions and the education establishment are fighting hard to block charters, reports the New York Times.

In Seattle, at a recent debate on charter schools at the University of Washington, sparring was intense.

“How long do I have to allow my kids to go to the public schools?” asked Henterson S. Carlisle, a teacher whose two children attend his school in the Seattle public system. “At what point can African-American kids who are suffering in the public system have some different options?”

A few minutes later in the same debate, Catherine Ahl, president of a school board on the Kitsap Peninsula west of Seattle and an officer of the Washington League of Women Voters, argued that charter schools, which are run by private boards rather than publicly elected ones, “take away citizens’ rights to oversee the spending of tax dollars.”

“We shouldn’t divert funds to create a separate, private school system,” Ms. Ahl said.

Eduwonk says the story isn’t as bad a hit piece as predicted but still reflects the Times’ anti-charter bias.

Alex Russo says the Times got the politics right:

More and more urban districts are looking to create large numbers of charterized small schools as part of their core school improvement plans. Nationwide, NCLB will soon start requiring “forced” conversions of failing neighborhood schools into charter schools – a much larger change on the part of schools and districts than anything that NCLB has thrown at them thus far. If it’s ugly now, it’s going to get much more ugly soon.

I’ve added Russo’s This Week in Education to the blogroll, along with Teach and Learn, which is by Michael Leach, science director for the Chicago public schools.

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  1. Eduwonk says the story isn’t as bad a hit piece as predicted but still reflects the Times’ anti-charter bias.

    I wonder what Eduwonk’s standards are for hit pieces then?

    Significant pieces of information were left out of the article. Pieces of information without which it’s impossible to come to any other conclusion but that charters schools are a poorly thought-out experiments that are always teetering on the edge of dissolution.

    Since it’s the New York Times it doesn’t suprise me all that much that the article is in agreement with the point of view the NEA would like to disseminate.

  2. Richard Brandshaft says:

    Bill Gates. There’s an endorsement. I just hope he doesn’t do for education what he did for computers.

  3. Politics does make strange bedfellows.

    I would have pegged Gates as an imperious lefty in the mold of George Soros. You know, “hearken onto me all ye lowborn whose net worth exceedeth not digits to the count ten”.

    Writing a check to support the passage of law enabling the creation of charter schools is not what I would have expected from Gates.


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