Charter schools, although not always the foremost topic, is a major point of discussion among politicians, parents, and teachers’ unions. Ever since the first charter school, City Academy Charter School, opened in 1992 in Minnesota, the program has been a resounding success. As a result, by 1995, nineteen states had passed legislation permitting the formation of charter schools, and, by 2003, this total rose to forty states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.
Nonetheless, charter schools have come under assault in recent years from Democrats and teachers’ unions for a myriad of unsubstantiated claims. The most popular of these allegations is that charter schools only accept the sharpest students and that they drain essential funding from public schools.
Without question, both of these arguments are nonsensical. First, unless the requests to attend a certain charter school do not exceed the supply of available seats, charter school programs use a lottery system to decide what children are given access to the charter school. Therefore, if charter schools only accept the sharpest young minds, it must be asked how the random number generators used by lottery systems are rigged to pick these students, much less how a machine can have a mind of its own.
Similarly, the latter claim holds no water when put against any scrutiny. According to a 2017 University of Arkansas analysis, charter schools in fourteen American urban centers received $5,828 less per child in financing than public schools. Furthermore, financing inequalities have been expanding in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Denver, Washington, D.C., and New York City since 2003.
Yet, even with these shortfalls in revenue in comparison to their public school counterparts, charter schools are generating far better results. For example, in one investigation within New York, over ninety percent of all students in a public school failed a math test. Meanwhile, every child at the charter school, which shared the same building as the public school, passed the same arithmetic exam. Likewise, similar results have been found in other American metropolitan areas. Additionally, it has been found that female lottery winners were almost sixty percent less likely to report being pregnant during their teenage years. In like manner, male lottery winners were far less likely to be incarcerated.
Moreover, as charter schools are predominantly located in urban areas, there is a greater percentage of minority students within these schools than in comparison to the national average. Consequently, although charter schools have not been able to eliminate poverty or the racial composition of minority pupils within a certain population, they have helped to reduce the interracial and wealth gaps in academics.
With all of this considered, it seems as if there should be universal support for such programs. However, there is a single statistic that makes charter schools unpalatable for Democrats and teachers’ unions. What is this?
The fact is that only eleven percent of charter schools contain a teachers’ union. This number is also down from twelve percent since 2010.
But what is the problem with such a figure? Notwithstanding the basic idea of a school’s function being for children to learn, politics are at play with the presence of teachers’ unions. Obviously, fewer unionized schools mean reduced revenues for such organizations. Correspondingly, it is unsurprising that these groups are vehemently against charter schools.
It should be noted that charter schools, unlike public schools, are forcingly to parents. If a charter school was to perform worse than public schools, parents would undoubtedly place their child back into the public school. Yet, under the current system, the inverse is impossible as charter schools rarely can fulfill demand and students will accordingly be forced into staying at the public school.
Further correlations also reveal Democrats’ disdain for charter schools. During the 2020 elections, the National Education Association gave $48 million to Democrats; meanwhile, the American Federation of Teachers gave $18.4 million. Put simply, it’s all about money.
While total disbursements throughout the previous election cycle by federal politicians equated to almost $14 billion, the sums of cash given to liberal politicians are still quite large, especially in comparison to the average teacher salary. Thus, for these backers to continue to funnel funds into politicians’ war chests, the special interest group must be kept satisfied.
Hence, despite the Left’s continuing claims of wanting equality, their political and interests have been put before the needs of children. If Democrat politicians truly cared, they would embrace school choice and expand access to charter schools.