Amid a concerted campaign by teachers unions to undermine school choice, national support for charter schools has taken a hit. According to the results of an annual survey by the K-12 education journal Education Next, only 39 percent of adults surveyed indicated support for charter schools, down from 51 percent last year.
The drop could prove in the long run to be an anomaly. But as Martin West, associate professor of education at Harvard University and coauthor of the Education Next report suggested to the Associated Press, opposition to charter schools from teachers unions and many Democrats “may have led to a souring of the charter brand.”
Teachers unions across the country have sought to use President Trump’s and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ support for charters and school choice as reason enough to oppose them.
In California, the California Teachers Union has launched a campaign called Kids Not Profits, predicated entirely on smearing charters as fundamentally about corporate profits rather than education. Similarly, United Teachers Los Angeles has spread the idea that charter schools are unregulated and a drain on Los Angeles Unified School District resources.
The teachers unions have plenty of reason to oppose charter schools. With the decentralization of education and the proliferation of options, the unions fear losing political power. Unfortunately for them, decades of underperformance from traditional public schools have encouraged parents and teachers alike to seek out alternatives to traditional schools, and charters have rewarded them with tangible results.
About 6 percent of students nationally now attend charter schools, according to a recent federal education report. This includes more than 600,000 California students in more than 1,200 charter schools.
Given the inevitability of school choice, it is no surprise that teachers unions have had to resort to hollow — but often effective — attacks.
Charter proponents and supporters…