The Old-School Empire Strikes Back

ClassroomLabPluto123School choice has been winning some battles in recent years. But just after the close of a week celebrating gains in expanding education options for families, old-school (in the literal sense) defenders of one-size-fits-all learning push back in two of the country's more ... umm ... authoritarian jurisdictions. Newly minted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to gut funding for privately managed charter schools that offer myriad  approaches and philosophies, while Illinois lawmakers look to weaken a state commission that has the power to authorize charters over the objection of entrenched local school districts.

According to the editorial board at the New York Post:

On Friday, Mayor Bill and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña announced that they plan to redirect $210 million away from charter public schools to traditional public schools. The funds will come from the 2015-19 capital plan, which hasn’t been released. Basically, what this means is that money that would’ve gone for the expansion of successful charter schools will go to build more pre-kindergarten seats at the traditional public schools.

This is astonishing on several scores. To begin with, the best research we have suggests the returns on most pre-K programs diminish after a few years, while the charter gains are impressive. If you were going to help children get a decent education, where would you put your dollars?

Even before his election, Bill de Blasio had a reputation as a defender of state-controlled everything (including horses). As the Post notes, research on charter schools has generally shown encouraging educational outcomes for children when compared to traditional public schools. That's especially impressive when you consider that charters tend to attract families that have been sorely disappointed by the often cookie-cutter traditional schools.

But even if the research didn't show such impressive outcomes, there's value in choice in and of itself. It allows families to pick and choose among philosophies and environments that best suit their own children and don't treat them as identical products with uniform needs.

Likewise, the Chicago Tribune's editorial board warns:

Illinois lawmakers created a special board in 2011 to encourage education choice. The Illinois State Charter School Commission has the power to override local school districts that reject efforts to open innovative public schools in their communities.

We strongly backed the creation of the commission because Illinois needs more top-performing charter schools. The idea did not drum up much controversy. The Illinois House and Senate cast overwhelming votes in favor of the commission. But there's already a move to scrap it.

That move is being led by state Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia and Sen. Kimberly Lightford, who voted just a couple of years ago to create the commission.

Chapa LaVia has filed another bill that would preserve the commission, but allow voters to overturn a decision of the commission by referendum.

The big problem, from lawmakers' perspective, is that the commission actually seems to like charter schools, while the local districts it overrules to authorize charters almost always don't. Also, politics may have played into some of the commission's decisions—a not entirely unknown phenomenon in the state of Illinois, and one that's likely inevitable in any activity involving government bodies doling out permissions and funds. The school districts do the same, but they do so with the approval of pet legislators.

The result in both New York and Illinois is a threat to one of the more popular and fast growing education options.

That's not to say the news is all bad. North Carolina introduced vouchers to help low-income students attend private schools, despite lawsuits. Wisconsin has done the same, while Indiana expanded its voucher program to nearly 20,000 students.

But there's no doubt that, in some parts of the country, fans of old-line, state-dominated education are starting to push back, and making efforts to limit the options available. If they win any of their battles, that's bound to hurt some families and students.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Even before his election, Bill de Blasio had a reputation as a defender of state-controlled everything (including horses).

    What kind of person wouldn't link back to Gillespie's post on that parenthetical subject?

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    Charter schools sound like an interesting "tailored" option for Americans. It is one I wished Canada had. Here in Quebec we witness the same type of iron-fisted control by the state on education through 'collective' and punitive laws like Bill 101. Laws like this assault civil liberties in that it prevents French-Canadian families from sending their children to the school of their choice on the English-speaking side. In other words, the government makes it illegal to choose.

  • sarcasmic||

    It allows families to pick and choose among philosophies and environments that best suit their own children and don't treat them as identical products with uniform needs.

    What? You mean families know their own needs? Blasphemy! Only Top Men can know what someone needs!

  • wareagle||

    can we stop pretending that this is about anything more than control now?

  • Vampire||

    The only way public schools survive is through force and violence. The same can be said about the state in itself. Such a violent institution faces no consequences, as they do not have to go door to door in order to confiscate someone's property. Bill Deblasio might be able to shake down a few people, but eventually he would have the shit kicked out of him for trying to extort someone. Detroit should be the new free state project. More and more individuals need to start rejecting the violent state and its minions.

    Suppose the state and its supporters had to extort going door to door. Individuals would defend themselves and their neighbors, and individuals would possibly hire security forces to repel the robbers. After facing the dog, an armed homeowner, or armed neighborhood of individuals, how many of those whom wises violence against others would remain standing and fighting? The state itself could no longer survive, and would run out of money and resources. Standing armies and police forces are a detriment to liberty, and a tool of the stare to use against it's subjects.

  • Vampire||

    Typos include wishes* and *state. V""V

  • sarcasmic||

    "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."

    George Washington

  • Christophe||

    Unfortunately, rebellion is hard, costly and painful, with no guarantee of betterment.

    If you want true freedom, you're going to have to look outside your borders.

  • Redmanfms||

    If you want true freedom, you're going to have to look outside your borders.

    Most of the rest of the world (well, all of the rest of the world) is only better insofar as the governments are less efficient/more corrupt. There is nowhere else to go.

    America is still the freest nation on Earth. What a sad commentary on the state of humanity that is, but it is no less the case.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Charter schools sound like an interesting "tailored" option for Americans.

    But America is all about DEMOCRACY, which, as we all know, means uniformity. Deviation from the mean must be stamped out.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    If you were going to help children get a decent education, where would you put your dollars?

    Haha, that's a rhetorical question, right?

  • Acosmist||

    Fund your own charter. Taxpayer money should not be stolen to fund any school, but it's especially egregious when a school selects students, both at admissions time and by expelling students public schools wouldn't be allowed to, and then claims better educational outcomes. Throw in dumping all the special ed kids, who, by law, HAVE to be educated by the public, on the public schools, and it's the scam of all scams.

    Charters are as anti-libertarian as schools get. They take public funds to educate only the cheapest, easiest students, leaving the public schools to struggle with the rest. Reason should not be fooled by this scam.

  • sarcasmic||

    Yeah. Better for those cheap and easy students to be schooled with the disruptive kids than into an environment where they can excel. Because fairness.

  • Acosmist||

    Universal public education isn't even something I consider worthwhile, so go ahead and argue against whoever thinks it is. The public schools have to educate the disruptive and the special eds, so...

  • R C Dean||

    Taxpayer money should not be stolen to fund any school,

    But, if it is, why not using this public resource to fund all the schools being used by the public, and not just the government-run ones?

  • Acosmist||

    Because they select students and exclude special ed students.

  • Tonio||

    Yes, they exclude the disruptive students and those that really don't want to be in school. And that's a net plus for the charter school students.

    Yes, charters do exclude special ed students. And while I have total sympathy for those kids, honestly, many of them are uneducable and are just being babysat expensively. I fully support schools being able to issue certificates of terminal educability to students (special or otherwise) who have learned all they can or will.

    There is nothing to prevent someone from starting a charter school which caters to special ed students. Why don't you get on that, Acosmist.

  • kbolino||

    So the more capable and teachable students should have to suffer so that the system doesn't look so bad?

    That is progressivism to a tee: the system is more important than the individual.

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • Acosmist||

    Yes, the more capable and teachable students DO have to suffer. That's universal public education. It's not something I actually like. Government mandates make that necessary.

    Upper and middle class people stealing money from people with less than them so they can take their kids out of those schools is fucking insane.

    Not progressive in the slightest, which you'd know if you read any of my comments.

    The slaver is the person saying "stop stealing taxpayer money"?! OK!

    Charters are a panacea for people who have no clue about education. Thanks for displaying your idiocy.

  • Tonio||

    There is nothing preventing poor children from accessing(tm) charter schools. Poor kids who want to learn will benefit the most from being removed from the failed public school system.

    Charters are a panacea for people who have no clue about education. Thanks for displaying your idiocy.

    Your saying that doesn't make it so. Even if you do have education credentials, those are not thought of well outside of education circles.

  • kbolino||

    Upper and middle class people stealing money from people with less than them so they can take their kids out of those schools is fucking insane.

    How exactly do upper and middle class families, who have fewer kids and live in houses with higher property taxes, steal from "people with less than them"?

    Provide some evidence for that bold claim.

    Not progressive in the slightest, which you'd know if you read any of my comments.

    If it quacks like a duck...

    The slaver is the person saying "stop stealing taxpayer money"?! OK!

    So taxpayer money magically becomes un-stolen when it goes to the public schools?

  • Tonio||

    There are some anti-libertarian elements to charter schools, specifically diverting the tax dollars to private schools. But given that public schools are failing both the taxpayers and the students, and publicly-funded K-12 education isn't going away any time soon, I can bend principle to allow some children to get a decent education which they otherwise wouldn't.

    Of course the true libertarian solution, one that is often referenced here, is to do away with publicly-funded education. Doing away with No Child Left Behind would also be a good start, but that's unlikely to happen.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Charters are as anti-libertarian as schools get.

    Fuck

    off.

  • Acosmist||

    Because taxpayers should be beggared for this scam. THAT'S the libertarian solution!

    You fuck off and read a fucking thing about charters, dumbass.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "Any color you want, as long as it's black," is not a libertarian model.

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