Do you think teacher’s unions, and supporters of teacher’s unions, would criticize charter schools if they weren’t working? From the very beginning, unions saw charters as a threat, since they receive public funds, but have a lot more freedom. Therefore, they can offer parents something different, and better. That was the founding spirit of the charter school movement: to innovate and compete.
The number one rule of unions everywhere is, no competition. If workers compete, they believe, wages and benefits go down. Union solidarity – and solidarity of all workers – yields better working conditions, and better pay. If workers go off on their own, employers can exploit them far too easily.
Clearly charter school faculty don’t think that way. They want some compensation, but they are not so interested in all the things union representatives think about when they go into contract negotiations. If you were to ask them, they would probably say, “No, I don’t think politics and education go so well together.” Contract negotiations, and especially strikes, are nothing if not political.
So one might become discouraged to see all the attacks on charter schools recently. I’ve even seen charter schools run for profit singled out, as if making money is inherently bad. For-profit schools receive extra criticism, even if they save the school district money. Do you know what it means when a school makes money? It means parents are happy with the education their children receive there.
Of all the sectors in our economy that can benefit from more competition, education and health care would be two of them. Yet we want to move these key functions under the public umbrella, and keep them there. Government has shown itself incompetent in everything it undertakes, yet we want to give it more responsibility, even for the education of our own children. If parents are unhappy with their child’s situation at school, they should have an alternative. Charter schools offer one.