Washington Post: “There’s a real progressive case for charter schools”

If you’ve paid attention to the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates and the talking points from “progressive” activists on Twitter, you’ve heard some version of the argument that charter schools aren’t progressive.

But, Conor P. Williams from the Century Foundation – a progressive think tank – makes a clear and compelling argument for the progressivism of charter schools in the Washington Post:

“Properly implemented, charter schools can provide a valuable challenge to the injustice of neighborhood-based school enrollment. As privileged — usually white — parents across the country combat efforts to racially and socioeconomically integrate their neighborhood schools, the fight for educational equity has become a class struggle. 

Charters, which polls have shown are more likely to be supported by voters of color, generally enroll students through open, neighborhood-blind lotteries. No matter how much a wealthy family wants access to a particular charter, it can’t purchase a home that guarantees attendance. This is critical given the scale and scope of privileged resistance toward efforts to loosen the power of private housing markets in public education…

…A strong push to advance progressive ends through charters could improve students’ academic performance, school integration and the quality of the charter movement. None of this means that housing policy fights should be dropped or that charters’ open-enrollment policies can unwind the racial and socioeconomic inequities in U.S. education. But progressive activists and policymakers should consider how long children in low-income families must wait. Unless activists have a plan to derail the housing dynamics behind systemic inequities, progressive efforts are more usefully focused on building a more equitable enrollment system outside the neighborhood and district walls privileged parents are so keen to protect.”

Read more about his progressive case for charter schools here.