My problem with charter schools (a rant)

I Struggle with Charter Schools.

The concept confuses me as a start. The idea of a private group controlling something as vital to someones future as education alone raises my eyebrows, primarily because the inherent disconnect between a private enterprise and a public good. Private companies focus on the bottom line, it is a profit based construct. Fine, that’s all well and good when we’re dealing with retail or services or something, they provide a service and get paid for it. Makes sense.

Here’s the issue: education isn’t a private thing. It’s a fundamental requirement to function and succeed in today’s world. If you don’t have an education you aren’t going to succeed it’s that simple. As such there have to be guidelines, rules and above all requirements for a school to fulfill. we’re talking about peoples futures after all. Now there are things called private schools these are separately managed institutions that operate on an isolated (mostly basis). I don’t mind these for two reasons: first they do not receive public funding. That on it’s own can be a serious impediment to succeed, which leads to point two: to thrive they have to be competitive i.e. good even without funding.

It works, so I accept it, very simple. So here’s my problem: Charter schools receive public funding. That is, private institutions un-beholden to any authority that is required to follow the rules and standards of any form of government, and as such beholden to the people, is given public funding.

This in turn precludes my second point regarding private schools, if you get public funding you don’t need to compete. 

I’m sure there are plenty of people with faith in a capitalist system, the obligations of an organization to appeal to a perspective buyer i.e. parents to choose there school/ product, to do well. This is supposed to be the competition that will embolden the Charter Schools to thrive or fail, being that surplus choice will eventually leave only the strongest choices available to the parents in the country. I disagree, for a very simple reason: why would any charter school, even and especially a failing one, willingly give up on the cash cow that is the federal government? They wouldn’t, it’s to profitable which is exactly the problem.

School, and healthcare and infrastructure (roads, bridges and the like) for that matter, should not be considered economic sectors, you shouldn’t focus on making money in these areas. That encourages cutting corners, prioritizing money over quality and as has often been the case resulted in failing schools that make a lot of money for the owners and produce substandard results. I’m sure there are successes, there has to be to provide examples for this nonsense but frankly? Private institutions shouldn’t receive public money. You want to educate on your own terms?

Do it privately, with your money – not everyone else’s.

That money should go to the public institutions, they have to succeed and do well according to the people, not according to a bottom line. It is not a perfect system, but it is a damn sight more accountable. Businesses have their place, as do public institutions. Don’t bring the two together.


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