Public schools

Charter-Hating Democrats Now Relying on Charter Schools To Service Families Reluctant To Go Back Into School Buildings

The one-size-fits-all approach to monopolistic K-12 instruction continues to repel even as COVID-19 recedes.


On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of states like New Jersey in announcing that public schools beginning in fall 2021 will no longer offer remote learning, and that teachers will no longer be granted COVID-19 medical waivers. No more hybrid, no more hair-trigger shutdowns, no more "Zoom in a room"—staff and students alike are expected to be inside school buildings five days a week.

This move in the nation's largest school district, along with others like it around the country, comes as a tremendous relief to millions of parents who have been desperate for a predictable schedule these past 14 months while watching their kids suffer through learning loss and mental/emotional challenges. Even though details such as masking and distancing have yet to be solidified, taking the remote option off the table serves as a crowbar to force open school doors in a system where three out of five kids are still attending class from afar.

And as in all such uses of force, some people are less than thrilled about having their options curtailed.

"How could the city essentially force us back, force us to make a choice that is not acceptable to us?" Brooklyn mom Tazin Azad told The New York Times. Manhattan parent-of-five Lilah Mejia complained to Chalkbeat that, "De Blasio does not make the final say about what's safe for me and my family….I am now thinking I need to possibly look at homeschooling options."

For much of the pandemic, the school-choice analysis of how families would respond to the pace of reopening has mostly centered on parents like, well, me: comparatively affluent, pale in hue, unshy about advocating their educational preferences.

"As white parents increasingly insist on in-person school, leading them to enroll in private options or move to the suburbs, at the same time that many parents of color are reluctant to send their children back in person, it's exacerbating the inequities that already plague urban public school systems," wrote Lauren Camera for U.S. News & World Report this month, in a piece with the unsubtle headline "Angry White Parents vs. the Public School System."

But the new developments flip that script. Now it is poorer families, in black and Latino communities, who are grasping for school options that better fit their desires. And what they can't help but notice, particularly in the heavily Democratic, union-influenced cities where schools are most likely to be less than fully open, is that the local educational and political establishments have been systematically choking off what choices they have.

New York City parents who want their kids to learn remotely this fall now have three lanes: homeschooling, private instruction, or charter schools. But that latter option has been deliberately limited by teachers unions and their Democratic allies, who have successfully enforced a charter cap at the state level despite parents being overwhelmingly in favor of lifting it. De Blasio, during his calamitous run for president, declared that he "hate[d]" the charter schools that educate more than 10 percent of kids receiving a public education in his city.

(Fortunately, the three leading candidates to replace de Blasio, Andrew Yang, Kathryn Garcia, and Eric Adams, have all advocated increasing the number of charter schools.)

The Democratic Party, which receives 94 percent of teachers union political contributions, has devolved in recent years from charter-curiosity to charter-hostility, with once-supportive politicians like Sen. Cory Booker (D–N.J.) understanding that the price of national political ambition is to suppress what is now considered heresy. But this stance may put pols in a pickle as charters get deployed by otherwise remote-canceling districts as the safety valve for parents unwilling to send their kids into school buildings.

As J.D. Tuccille wrote in these pages last month, "Among the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic we can probably count Americans' faith in government-dominated education." The pandemic has exposed deep structural flaws in the monopolistic provision of K-12 instruction—the student-damaging political influence of teachers unions, the monomaniac focus on "systemic racism," the fundamentally alienating one-size-fits-all approach. It's no wonder that homeschooling has tripled, school choice laws are proliferating, and preliminary fall enrollment figures continue to plummet.

Government-run schools are awash in unprecedented amounts of federal dollars right when the public is turning away from them. This is the ideal moment to rethink the top-down model, acknowledge that one size just cannot ever hope to fit all, and allow whatever taxpayer dollars that are being spent on education to be directed by families exercising their choice, rather than by bureaucrats trying to close choice down.

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  1. >>millions of parents who have been desperate for a predictable schedule

    predictable schedule cannot be set without available government daycare.

    1. must be fake news how predictable schedules were before without available government daycare

      Or proper punctuation and capitalization.

      Or ee cummings.

      1. how will Julie know what time Dakota's soccer practice is if she doesn't have to pick him up from school first?

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    2. Thank you for joining the fight to end the COVID-19 pandemic by choosing to get fully vaccinated, and encouraging the people in your life to do the same...........MORE DETAIL.

  2. OMG! What about THE SCIENCE?

  3. "Government-run schools are awash in unprecedented amounts of federal dollars right when the public is turning away from them. This is the ideal moment to" increase administrative and teacher salaries while reducing their work load.

  4. Imagine if schools were private. Imagine that schools could set their own policies without regard to what some blowhard politician thinks.

    We could not only have open schoolrooms for those parents who want to send their children back to school, but also schools that are 100% online for parents too skared to let their children leave the house. Win, win, everyone wins! We just got to get rid of the stupid idea that one size fits all. Sorry, I tried wearing my wife's undies once, one size does NOT fit all!

    p.s. Charter schools are just a stop gap measure. Charter schools are STILL government schools. All these trillions we're spending on pandemic relief and infrastructure. We could hand out full tuition vouchers to everyone for a fraction of that, and still have money left over for full health insurance premiums for everyone. Gosh.

    1. It's always fascinating to watch people avoid the elephant in the room and come up with new ways for government to fix the problems created by the last round of government fixes.

      On the other hand, always wishing for reduced government regs is about as useful as wishes for fishes when hungry. I know Mr Welch's heart is in the right place, even as his real life has to deal with Blasio and Cuomo.

      1. His ass is in the wrong place.

        You aren't loyal, you have no voice - the only remaining option is exit. Can NYC possibly be that great?!?

        1. We've spent the last 10 months bitching--rightly so--that schools were not open. Now that some progress happens, we're going to piss and moan because online learning isn't available?

          Like Louis CK said, it's funny how someone feels entitled to something they didn't even know existed 30 minutes ago.

      2. Well we just had four years of a "CUT REGULASHUNS" president. And while there were successes, they were entirely in the hands of TWO appointees. One of whom was later fired.

        Electing blowhards is one step forward two steps back solution. What we need to do is change the whole public mindset on regulation and governance. We have big government because in general the public wants big government.

        1. It's not easy convincing people that people can agree upon rules without threats of violence.

        2. You criticized the guy who did cut regulations. You didn't criticize the guy promising more. You fault one for leftist lawsuits stopping more cuts and ignore the fact that congress actually does have a say. Because you fell for a narrative of how evil and disgusting someone is.

          Youre literally part of the problem.

          You fault someone for following the law but doing what he could to improve things like school choice and school regulation... yet no such fault for those promising neither.

          It is an odd thing to watch.

    2. If all schools were private, I bet most poor kids would end up without an education.

      1. So nothing would change.

        1. Exactly. Sending poor kids to shitty schools where they don't learn a damn thing is good intentions paving the road to hell. Not to mention a waste of resources.

      2. Most schools are public, and most poor kids end up without an education.

        1. Thank the Republicans for NCLB.

          1. those Republicans were Democrats the whole time

          2. Lol. Even fucking here when discussing inner city schools and school boards often ran by democrats.... sarcasmic blames the Republicans.

            God damn man.

          3. Especially amazing you've ignored the test scores since common core. O mean what the actual fuck?


            Feds shouldn't be involved. But this is about finding a way to blame Republicans for an industry dominated by democrats and their unions.

            You are so fucking broken.

  5. Public schools should be the education of last resort, not first resort. Private school tuition should be a non refundable tax credit up to $6k per student annually.
    You should be able to take the credit for any child, not just your own child.
    Businesses should be able to take the credit.

    Get as many children as possible into private schools and home schooling. Reduce the public school population to the minimum.

    1. Yes, absolutely. I remember walking Tuition Tax Credit referendum door to door in the 80s. Didn't win. Oh well. Heck, even some private school parents were suspicious of signing it, that's how entrenched the public school mentality is.

      Go listen to some of FEE's old recordings of libertarian seminars. All the libertarian college kids are hunky dory with free banking, slashing taxes and regulation, legalizing drugs, free trade, etc. Even getting rid of roadz. Then there's that session about ending public schools and they all flip out like you've just vivisected their kitten live on stage. Libertarians screaming at the lecturer for wanting to get rid of government schools. Crazy.

      So yeah, I want government out completely. Tuition tax credits are actually the second best solution. But I think vouchers are the third best solution and the only one vaguely in reach in our reality. People just ain't ready for to get rid of the government blanket. Hell, most people think charter schools are private schools.

    2. You're half right. Get as many children as possible into private schools and homeschooling and off the government dole. Screw tax credits or any kind of government support, except for the poor. Why should I pay for someone else’s kids?

  6. The charter school experiment in my area has been one embarrassing disaster after another. Maybe they'll get to teaching kids something like a normal curriculum once they are done fighting off all the lawsuits.

    Reason is pimping for wealthy interests who see a pool of money in education that they think would be better managed in their hands. Fine. We all make compromises to our integrity for a paycheck.

    But you can't even explain how the profit motive improves education outcomes in principle. You can unconvincingly mutter utopian horsecrap about "choice," as if parents need that in their lives, and which implies that there will be such disparities in outcomes that picking and choosing becomes necessary. In that case, what happens to the children in the shit schools? Let me guess, they're grist for the free market as well.

    1. I worked in a private school for a few years. The motivation was NOT to strike it rich and cash out on the backs of parents. The primary goal was to provide quality education to the students. Making a living at it was secondary. No one went home wealthy.

      People don't set up liquor stores to get filthy rich. People don't set up restaurants to get filthy rich. People don't set up computer repair shops to get rich. The "profit" is secondary. Even for a private school. Yes they want to make a living at it, but they don't start a business to become filthy rich. That's a bullshit.

      1. Oh, bull. Except for the occasional deluded idealist, people create businesses to make money. I've never met a rich business owner who complained about their company being so popular that it got them rich.

        1. A tiny minority of business owners become "rich" but that's not the primary motivation. Most do it because they love the work and can't fulfill their ambitions as an employee. Even a one person business has a life of it's own. It always needs something and the owner has to figure out how to provide it. Sometimes that means not getting paid at all let alone getting rich. If you can make a living you're a success. If you get rich better still but that's the exception not the rule. If that's your primary motivation you're in for a big disappointment.

          1. Aren't you the piece of garbage who routinely accuses me of incest?

            Your point on business stands. I'm not going to argue with it.

            But I still consider you to be a worthless fuck for the disgusting things you said about me and my family.

            1. This is the non emotional responses you keep talking about huh.

        2. Except for the occasional deluded idealist, people create businesses to make money.

          Except for businesses that deal with the government, the way to make money is to provide people goods and services they want at competitive prices they can afford. You might say except for the occasional short sighted, deluded, and greedy person, people go into business to help others.

        1. If Reason is shilling for people interested in making money by providing education in a free market, that's a good thing. But the story you reference, shows the Koch's spending money on education to make it better, not that they are getting in the education business.

          The government educators force you to pay for their salaries, whether you want their "services" or not, and apparently whether they're working or not. It's a monopoly that shouldn't exist.

    2. Reason is pimping for wealthy interests who see a pool of money in education that they think would be better managed in their hands. Fine. We all make compromises to our integrity for a paycheck.

      But you can’t even explain how the profit motive improves education outcomes in principle.

      LOL. The most ridiculous thing about this is the implication that Teachers' Unions are all pure and motivated by the love of teaching. Their behavior in the past year has proven that they're sole motivation is getting the most amount of money to do the least amount of work, punctuated by laughably melodramatic protests. They are possibly the scummiest taxpayer grifters ever and only moron progs like you believe they have any good intentions anymore. They got this way because they have no competition. I don't think anyone believes that a profit motive in education would improve outcomes. It's the CHOICE OF THE CONSUMER.

      1. blah *their sole motivation /product of public schools

      2. Oh and btw, private teachers make less than public school teachers, on average.

        1. Which is why private is usually a stepping stone for teachers looking to move to a public school job.

        2. Yes, we know government teachers are overpaid.

    3. "But you can’t even explain how the profit motive improves education outcomes in principle."

      Nothing can be easier to explain.

      I am a public school teacher; I started teaching in the mid-80s, and have been a certified/licensed teacher in three states. So I've been doing this a while, and have seen quite a bit. How does the profit motive improve education outcomes? With few exceptions, in public schools, principals have little motivation to get rid of bad teachers, to even try to do so simply increases the workload of the principal, there is no guarantee of success, and at the end of the day, even if he is successful, no one thanks him. So, given that there is no tangible reward, he instead allows that terrible teacher to remain in the classroom, even as parents complain.

      In a private or charter school however, that complaining parent has an option. They. Can. Leave. If they do leave and go to another school, that principal has lost the funding for that student, and he is likely losing funding for a bunch of other similarly disgruntled parents. The owner of the school sees his revenue stream dropping, and he holds the principal accountable. Poor performing teachers and principals both get fired in for-profit schools because they cost the schools' owners money.

      And when you replace bad teachers with good ones, the learning increases. And all schools thus have to increase their performance. This effect can even affect nearby public schools, though probably not as much. This is because if you have a vibrant charter school network, the public schools will lose students, and their funding will go down, and they'll have to lay off teachers. Unfortunately, they will lay off the most junior teachers, not the worst-performing ones.

  7. Simple solution. Stop voting Democrat.

  8. Public schools in my area are using the budget surplus from this year to create online academies, so parents CAN choose between in school or online. We have seen some students flourish in an online environment, so why take that away from them? District polling shows that about 5% of our parents are "interested" or "very interested" in having their kids continue with online school next fall, which is plenty to have a district-wide academy.

    1. I think that allowing families the option to keep their kids in an online schooling environment is a wonderful idea, and I support it fully.

      However, as a classroom public school teacher myself, I would want those kids in a truly separate school (which is what I think you are saying). I would NOT want them doing what they are doing now: watching from home as I teach other kids who are in class. It's not that I wouldn't want them to have that option, it's just that it's really, really hard to focus on the two groups at the same time.

      1. Absolutely! What you are describing is what I would put in the "hybrid" learning categories, and it has been pretty bad. Whether it is an absolute disaster or merely highly suboptimal comes down to the effort the individual teacher puts in to making it work.

        The majority of my students have shown good evidence of learning and my standardized test scores showed improvement as well, but I've also never worked so hard for such faint praise. Working 60-70 hours a week for "decent" results shows that hybrid is an inefficient system.

        And yes, we are creating an entirely separate online school.

  9. The most interesting development coming out of the school lockdowns are parents forming "pods" of kids. It could lead to a new model for private micro-schools or pods of homeschoolers.

    1. Most homeschoolers are already part of homeschooling networks. Pods are just localized groups of homeschoolers.

      1. Yes, but it’s a little different in that your kids have a few non-family to hang out with every day. As opposed to, way, seeing other kids a couple times a week at dance class (or whatever).

        It’s a little more social, which is generally good for kids.

    2. Not for all of them anyway. One of the kiddos did that. She was not too thrilled and couldn’t wait to get back to real school.

      I don’t think she learned anything much this year except for the activities her parents took her too and her own curiosity. Zoom sucks for most children.

  10. Democrats hate charter schools because, unlike public schools, they don't teach kids that government is god.

    1. I went to public school and never learned such a thing.

      You people are awfully concerned about the subject content of schoolchildren's curricula.

      It's a wasted effort. Unless you want to engage in some serious North Korea-level indoctrination, you'll find that children grow up to be adults with their own ideas, and almost all of us figure out that history class in 2nd grade wasn't a complete picture of the world.

      1. You're kidding, right?

        You're the posterchild for elevating organizations of men who use violence to the status of gods. Well, when your team is in charge that is. Otherwise government is the devil.

      2. Tony lying again, as usual.

        1. Get a grip. Just because someone says something you disagree with doesn't make them a liar. If they believe it then it isn't a lie, even if it is untrue.

          You need to change your shtick. Instead of "stop voting for democrats, assholes" you might want to try "here's why they're wrong."

          1. How many people do you accuse of being a trump cultist and lying for disagreeing with you? Hmmmm.....

          2. Republicans lost the White House and congress. It is not the end of the world. If it is ‘so long and thanks for all the fish’.

            That reality has not sunken in among many republicans. If it does not republicans are not going to succeed.

            The first step needs to be a recognition that mistakes were made and identifying what those were.

            The second step needs to be coming up with solutions to the internal culture which led to those errors.

            People who deal with critical processes in business, technology, military or medicine do this on a regular basis. I have participated in those kinds of reviews. They are not easy but without them things break down.

            I have seen a breakdown in the Republican Party into factionalism and blaming the other side within the party. The election itself. The physical house of Congress. This is not a sign of a winning team. Then just blaming the other side and people who voted for them for winning.

            I offer this critique as one who is neither. I have had enough. I voted for that nice professor lady because she most closely represented my views.

            If republicans want to win elections they need to reunite around a central set of goals which will resonate with voters. I have a hard time believing that rallying around a one term former president who lost and threw the country into turmoil is going to work.

            If you are trying to sell the best chicken sandwich in town you make and advertise the best chicken sandwich.

            The faithful will vote for whomever you put up. It is the 10% who can go either way you need to worry about.

  11. People should be entitled (within reason) to send children to schools of their choice. Public funds should be provided to precisely one group of schools: Public schools.

  12. Why is it so? No more COVID-19 medical exemptions for teachers. There is no more mixing, no more trigger closures, no more "magnification rooms"-both staff and students should be in the school building five days a week.

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