Monday, December 3, 2012

Sun-Times editorial board is muddled and confused

The Sun-Times editorial board is lost. On days like this they don't know whether to crap or play hockey. Today's editorial, "Build on successes of charter schools", tries to dismiss the CTU's excellent report on charter schools but ends up validating most of it.

On the one hand, they wish it would go away:
It is easy to dismiss the Chicago Teachers Union’s latest assault against charter schools in Chicago... It is hard to take the CTU’s analysis seriously, given their clear bias and their hyperbolic and conspiratorial language.
But they can't help but admit:
But the CTU report has value. It’s a starting point for a conversation that’s desperately needed about charters. Because charters, despite the good work at many individual schools, have produced uneven results overall and have had a negative impact on some neighborhood schools that must be addressed.

Some charter supporters refuse to admit charters can do wrong and, fueling the CTU’s conspiracy theories, have grand visions of huge charter expansion in Chicago. CPS and Mayor Rahm Emanuel would do well to tamp down those voices, creating the space to improve all schools in Chicago. 
CPS has opened charters haphazardly, without considering how they affect nearby schools. This can drain students from neighborhood schools and, in some cases, leave them with needier populations.
The CTU correctly points out that charters have fewer students with severe disabilities, fewer bilingual students because they have a slightly lower Latino population than CPS has a whole, higher teacher turnover and a less diverse teaching force. And charters can end up with the more motivated families who have the wherewithal to seek them out. Charter operators also admit to instances of difficult students leaving charters for neighborhood schools.

The answer isn’t to rid Chicago of charters but to figure out ways to tackle these problems and to give neighborhood schools the extra support they need to help every child thrive.
I agree.  But getting rid of charters is not the issue. The issue is closing (not giving extra support to) hundreds of neighborhood schools and replacing them with privately-managed, non-union, charters. That is precisely the mayor's plan (not a CTU "conspiracy theory") and that is what the union is rightfully resisting.

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