Rethinking Charter Schools


Keeping the Promise? The Debate Over Charter Schools (Rethinking Schools, March 2008) details a growing trend in U.S. public education. That is the chartering of public schools to non-profit and for-profit operators.

To this end, six essays and one interview flesh out the relevance and significance of the charter school movement. Charter schools, begun two decades ago to spur innovation in learning and teaching, have been a force to push out labor unions. It is common for teachers at charter schools to be at-will employees, with no job protections. However, not all charter schools are union-free. It is worth noting that there are teacher’s unions in charter schools. A case in point is Boston’s Pilot Schools, begun 13 years ago, according to Dan French, an author, educator and contributor to Keeping the Promise?

Crucially, contributors to the book—educators, parents and researchers—localize the factors and forces involved in the rise of charter schools from the East Coast to the Midwest, South and West Coast. This is a strength. It can help readers to get a better sense of the over-all national trajectory of public school policy.

In Ohio, David Brennan’s White Hat Management, a for-profit charter school firm, drew on his political ties to the state’s former GOP Governor George Voinovich and the Republican Party. This visible hand helped Brennan to shape state education policies which facilitated his educational entrepreneurship. In New Orleans, public officials and charter school operators exploited the awful devastation from Hurricane Katrina and shameful reaction of FEMA to turn the city’s schools upside down. Consider this. “In one short year, New Orleans had become home to the highest concentration of charter schools in the nation,” writes Leigh Dingerson, a community organizer, educator and co-editor of the collection, along with Barbara Miner, Bob Peterson and Stephanie Walters.

American citizens with scant economic and political power, non-whites last hired and first fired in the labor market, are often easy pickings for charter school operators. These entrepreneurs do not proceed alone as they compete in the mythical marketplace of free competition between buyers and sellers of goods and services. To the contrary, charter school operators across the U.S. can and do turn to well-heeled donors. One of note is Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates. In 2003, his largess helped propel former NBA-All Star Kevin Johnson to charter Sacramento High School, located in a low-income, multi-racial neighborhood. The school is operated by Johnson’s non-profit St. HOPE Academy, under a continuing federal probe for how it spent $800,000 in federal funds from 2004 to 2007.

The contributors to Keeping the Promise raise crucial questions of equity and fairness in education policy. This arena of struggle reflects the national class divide, the widest among developed countries worldwide.

SETH SANDRONSKY lives and writes in Sacramento. He can be reached at: ssandronsky@yahoo.com.


Your Ad Here




Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
Lars Jørgensen
Vive la Résistance
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
James Anderson
Reframing Black Friday: an Imperative for Déclassé Intellectuals
Simon Bowring
UN Climate Talks 2009: a Merger of Interest and Indifference
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxemburg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
Aidan O'Brien
Same-Sex Sellout in Ireland
David Stocker
Report from the Frontline of Resistance in America
Patrick Bond
China Sucked Deeper Into World Financial Vortex and Vice Versa, as BRICS Sink Fast
Majd Isreb
America’s Spirit, Syrian Connection
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
Charles R. Larson
Chronicle of Sex Reassignment Surgery: Juliet Jacques’s “Trans: a Memoir”
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
CounterPunch’s Favorite Films
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving