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Charter Schools Outperform Public Alternative, Unions Largely to Blame

When you suddenly find yourself agreeing with Mike Bloomberg, one of two things must be true. Either:

  • you need to re-evaluate your own beliefs; or,
  • what he’s saying is so indisputably true only a fool or a liar could disagree.

In the case of a June 2 op-ed published in his own Bloomberg magazine, it’s the latter.

Notwithstanding his manifest failures as mayor of New York, Bloomberg is surprisingly spot-on in his enthusiastic support of charter schools.

In the op-ed, headlined “A Wake-Up Call for Public Education: Falling enrollment in America’s schools is a sign of a system in crisis,” the typical New York politician notes that, “(A)fter students have fled public schools in record numbers, states are paying more to educate fewer children. That might have been acceptable if students were showing great improvement. Instead, we are paying more for failure.”

In a similar guest opinion published last December by the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg cited the example of New York’s Success Academy, whose network of 47 public charter schools serves children whose families predominantly live below the poverty line. And yet its students have historically outperformed public-school students in Scarsdale, N.Y. — the wealthiest town on the East Coast and the second-wealthiest town in America — by significant margins.

Charter schools, Bloomberg notes, educate seven percent of all public-school students, yet they receive less than one percent of total federal spending on K-12 education. As more parents opt out of traditional district schools, that imbalance should be corrected, as charters struggle to afford the teachers they need to serve their growing student populations, often in low-income communities.

Meanwhile, students shoehorned into the traditional public school model were being badly educated even before they were banished from the classroom for close to two years by the nation’s overreaction to the COVID pandemic.

Most gratifyingly of all, Bloomberg seems to know where to place the blame for both the current failures and the opposition to charter schools — the nation’s all-too-powerful teachers’ unions.

While the National Education Association (NEA) and the rival American Federation of Teachers (AFT) grandiosely assert their efforts serve both their member teachers and the students in their charge, neither is the unions’ top priority.

Instead, modern teachers’ unions — like most labor associations in the public and private sector — are primarily consumed with the task of advancing a radically liberal political agenda having little or nothing to do with teacher working conditions or educational outcomes.

Responding to parent criticism during the COVID quarantine, Cecily Myart-Cruz, head of the Los Angeles teachers’ union, last summer told Los Angeles Magazine, “Our kids didn’t lose anything. It’s OK that our babies may not have learned all their times tables. They learned resilience.”

Myart-Cruz also urged her union to adopt a resolution condemning Israel.

Does this sound like someone with teachers and students, or a social justice warrior hunkered down in a foxhole of wokeness and anti-Semitism?

AFT President Randi Weingarten, with whom Bloomberg said he worked to raise teacher salaries by 43 percent even as student test scores were cratering, has been even more activist, at various times committing the resources of her union to the causes of abortionclimate change and gun control.

And despite later trying to reinvent herself as an advocate for returning to in-class instruction, internal emails showed Weingarten and her union were invited to write key portions of the Centers for Disease Control’s official policy of slow-walking the process.

From the top down, teachers’ unions have abrogated their responsibilities in a headlong quest to turn America’s schools into socialist indoctrination centers and use the dues of their members to fund the full range of radical leftist candidates and causes.

For all his shortcomings, Bloomberg is absolutely correct in his assessment that the union-controlled public school model is broken beyond repair and charter schools represent perhaps the last, best hope of teaching our children what they need to know rather than what their statist handlers want them to know.

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