in Kulturkampf

Charter Schools Are Not About Education

When Brooke Harris tried to channel her Michigan charter school students’ outspoken concern about the Trayvon Martin shooting into positive action, she was fired by the school supervisor. Harris received no explanation for her firing and has no recourse. That is by design, because the privatization of public education is not about better test scores, but breaking teachers.

This is becoming especially clear for minority students, for whom privately-owned charter schools are no panacea. In fact, they seem to be reinforcing segregation:

An analysis of Texas Education Agency data of average black dropout rates in Texas secondary schools shows that Houston, Dallas and Austin public schools outperform privately operated charter districts, with charter districts having three times the dropout rate reported in the comparable urban districts (4 percent versus the charters’ 13 percent).


According to Vasquez Heilig’s research, not only have Texas charter schools failed to retain black students, they also, on average, do not have large black student enrollments.

As of 2008, a minority of charter districts in Texas (23 percent) enrolled more than 100 black secondary students, and only 16 percent had a majority of black students enrolled. Districts that were not majority black enrolled about 69 black students, on average.

Color me unsurprised. Public school privatization emerged in reaction to the Brown v Board desegregation decision. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has simultaneously pushed charter schools and teacher union-busting measures for years; the “free market education” philosophy reinforces “white flight” while the broken charter school teacher keeps their head down. Don’t tell me this wasn’t on purpose, because it always is.

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