As I wrote in my newsletter yesterday, 2014 will be the year of three “-isms” - sentimentalism, fanaticism, and Manichaeism. News & Observer editors flash all three in their latest “charters are the devil” missive.
Sentimentalism: “But along the way, discussions about charter schools evolved from educational to political.”
The truth is that discussions about charter school have always been political, even when Democrats were in charge. There was no “golden era” when educational considerations were the primary driver of the charter school debate. The political leadership has changed but the debate has not.
Fanaticism: “It’s simply suspicious that charters are so popular now with hard-core conservative ideologues, who have little interest in economic and racial diversity in schools.”
Since passage of the charter school law in 1996, Lefties have been obsessed with the idea that charter school parents and supporters are racists. There is no evidence that they are, so the editors of the N&O air ridiculous “suspicions” and generalizations.
Manichaeism: “The concept that drove Democrats who ran the legislature in 1996 to approve the creation of charter schools has evolved, some would say mutated, under Republicans. Given how Republicans have made sport of attacking public education and teachers and how conservatives have been the strongest backers of virtually unlimited charter expansion, it’s clear some want charters to become some sort of publicly funded private system.”
Manichaeism is the idea that there is a conflict between clearly defined (and self evident) forces of good and evil. For the editors of the N&O, the difference between good and evil is often the difference between Ds and Rs. Note, for example, how the Democrats simply had a “concept,” but the Republicans started to attack it…for sport. (Insert evil laugh.) The truth is that both parties have charter school opponents and proponents. And within both, one will find a variety of perspectives and policy prescriptions that are neither morally good nor evil.