Gov. Pat Quinn isn’t buying everything charter schools are selling. The governor invited education scholar Diane Ravitch to speak to a civic group in Chicago. Ravitch told the audience that charter schools are no better than traditional public schools, except that they allow the private sector to make money off education.
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Ravitch, a former U.S. assistant secretary of education who served in appointed capacities under presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, says charter schools were intended to help the poorest, least-able students, but they’re being used now to skim the kids who are easiest to educate.
“And my fear, having attended segregated schools in Houston, Texas, is that we are returning to a pre-Brown vs. Board of Education society, in which segregation will be based on class, not on race, in which the charter schools will take the most motivated children, and the public schools will become dumping grounds,” she told the City Club of Chicago, after an introduction by the governor.Ravitch is the author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.
Quinn says he doesn’t have a problem with charter schools, as long as they don’t hurt the regular schools. “I, like Diane Ravitch and like most everybody, believe in the public school system. That’s our fundamental system. It’s really the heart of our democracy to have a system of public education that excels,” he said. Illinois has 46 charter schools on 116 campuses serving 41,714 students (Source: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Dashboard www.publiccharters.org/dashboard/reports)
Ravitch says the No. 1 factor in the failure of students is poverty. Quinn says he wants to fight poverty.