As you read on, keep these facts in mind:
- The 2015 Kids Count report found that children living in poverty jumped from 18% to 22% between 2008 and 2013.
- According to the 2013 U.S. Census Bureau, the child poverty rate among African-Americans was 39%.
- In 2103, 48% of African-American children and 37% of Latino children had no parent working a full-time, year-round job.
- The Economic Policy Institute finds that, by age of 14, 25% of African-American children have had a parent—typically a dad—imprisoned; on any given day, 10% of them have had a parent in jail or prison, and that’s 4 times more than in 1980.
Now on to the charter vs. traditional public school controversy…
By the 1960s and 70s, innovative schools were opening in such cities as Philadelphia and Chicago. Then in 1988, Albert Shanker, as president of the American Federation of Teachers, spoke about the meager 20% of students benefiting from a traditional public education. His solution: charter schools, “where teachers would be given the opportunity to draw upon their expertise to create high-performing educational laboratories from which the traditional public schools could learn.”
That was the intent, the promise, and, in 1992, the first true charter school, City Academy High School, opened its doors in St. Paul, Minnesota.
In the following years, charter schools found advocates in both Presidents Clinton and G.W. Bush, but it took Obama to make it a federal school reform priority and included it as an application incentive in his $4.35 billion Race to the Top grant program.
Now, Donald Trump is at the helm, and his controversial Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is a vocal charter school champion.
Indeed, her resume includes serving as chairman of the American Federation for Children (AFC). Describing itself as “the nation’s leading school choice advocacy group,” it boasts that it’s “a national leader in the fight to boldly reform America’s broken education system.”
Nevertheless and as an aside, a 2016 Gallup survey found that 76% of parents are “broadly satisfied with the education their oldest child receives;” 36% are “completely satisfied.”
Meanwhile, the AFC site further states, “The American Federation for Children is breaking down barriers to educational choice by creating an education revolution that empowers parents to choose the best educational environment for their children, so all children, especially low-income children, have access to a quality education.”
And that, say charter advocates, is the whole point—the ability to offer parents alternative school settings for their children, ones that are innovative, competitive, and accountable. Moreover, unlike traditional public schools, if performance standards are not met, the charter is revoked, said school is shut down.
What’s not to like? It all sounds so good, so promising, and yet (more…)