Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Voters in Washington DC and New York City Reject Charter Schools

New Orleans, ground zero of the charter school movement, will soon face a decision on whether the city's public schools will return to local control. According to an article this week by Diane Ravitch in Education Week, recent elections in Washington DC and New York City - where well-funded charter advocates lost decisively at the polls - may carry important lessons. Speaking about the choice of voters in DC, where the mayor who had championed charter schools won with white voters (who generally do not have kids in the city's public schools) but decisively lost the Black vote, Ravitch wrote:

"Journalists attributed Fenty's loss to the power of the teachers' union, but such an explanation implies that black voters, even in the privacy of the voting booth, lack the capacity to make an informed choice. When the Tea Party wins a race, journalists don't write about who controlled their vote, but about a voter revolt; they acknowledge that those who turned out to vote had made a conscious decision. Yet when black voters, by large margins, chose Vincent Gray over Adrian Fenty, journalists found it difficult to accept that the voters were acting on their own, not as puppets of the teachers' union."

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