Charter Schools’ Success Makes Them a Political Target
An educational innovation that once had bipartisan support faces adversity in Washington and the courts.
We’ve reached a point in journalism where major news outlets can earn praise for doing something that ought to be the norm: offering even-handed coverage of controversial topics.
A recent news article in the New York Times about the growing popularity of charter schools in New York City was remarkable for its balance. The story stated matter-of-factly that the “vast majority of students in charters are Black or Latino” and that charters “receive less per-pupil funding than district schools” but nevertheless “typically outperform district schools in math and reading on state standardized tests.” The cap on the number of charter schools allowed to open in New York was reached three years ago, but Democrats oppose lifting it. So do the teachers unions, which “are major political players and disapprove of the schools, which tend not to be unionized.”
None of that is news to regular readers of these opinion pages, but it’s not the type of coverage you read often in news articles, let alone in the New York Times. And the timing is superb because attacks on school choice have escalated. It’s hard to believe, given today’s hyper-divisive political climate, but after their inception in the early 1990s charter schools enjoyed bipartisan support that spanned four presidential administrations.
This piece originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal