“Charter schools, you’re no Whole Foods!”: Parents reject “charter desert” ploy

Press release *** For immediate release

May 22, 2018

Parents say, “Charter schools, you’re no Whole Foods!”

National parent group rejects charter school proponents’

cynical “charter desert” marketing ploy

Contact: Khem Irby, PAA President, ph 336-508-2527

Julie Woestehoff, PAA Interim Executive Director, ph 307-288-1456

The charter school industry is worried – charter expansion is slowing down. To these privatizers who need continuous profit growth to survive, that’s a doomsday scenario.

An April 2018 Fordham Institute report, “Charter School Deserts,” is clearly designed to manipulate law- and policy-makers into forking over more money to the charter industry. In it, charter school advocates attempt to create a sense of urgency by mapping out areas of potential charter market expansion, calling them “charter deserts,” defined as areas where there are few or no charter schools and large numbers of low-income children, their target demographic. A panel presentation of the report is scheduled for tomorrow in Washington DC.

The charter advocates cynically take the term from the concept of “food deserts,” low-income neighborhoods which have limited access to affordable, full-service grocery stores that sell healthy whole foods. These communities must rely on convenience, corner and snack shops as well as fast-food restaurants for meals, which results in their eating more packaged, processed, salt- and sugar-laden foods that are linked to a variety of health problems.

Parents Across America (PAA) takes issue with the “desert” comparison as well as the greedy agenda behind it. Charter schools are no more necessary to healthy communities than one more hamburger franchise is to a fast food strip. Tellingly, the report never claims that charter schools are a better alternative to public schools, just an alternative. It repeatedly states that low-income students “need more options,” but options are not the same as a quality education.

The only real point of similarity may be that the both the charter school industry and the corporate forces responsible for food deserts target and take advantage of poor children and their families.

Parents are generally aware that charter schools have not added value to our nation’s public school system. Too many parents have also experienced the closure of cherished neighborhood schools to make way for charter schools, the loss of voice due to charter schools’ lack of public accountability, and the repeated slashing of local school budgets as millions are taken away from their schools and poured into charter expansion.

The Fordham report asks charter advocates to “irrigate” the desert by taking each state’s report to the appropriate legislators and using it to justify asking for more money for charter operations, an easing of current caps and restrictions on charter expansion, and added incentives to open charter schools in the “deserts.” They further ask foundations and philanthropists to consider greater charter school funding in “desert” areas.

But parents aren’t buying it. We reject as cynical and self-serving the idea that there are areas that “need” charter schools. We are contacting Congress and our local law- and policy-makers asking that they listen to parents, the vast majority of whom prefer adequately-funded traditional neighborhood schools over other options. We call on our representatives to stop diverting millions of scarce public school funds into the private charter school industry that looks on our children as “market shares” and not as the precious future of our nation.

Please see PAA’s position paper on charter schools here.

PAA is a grassroots network connecting parents of all backgrounds across the United States to share ideas and work together to improve our nation’s public schools. PAA currently has 47 chapters and affiliates in 26 states.

Posted on by Julie Woestehoff Posted in Misc

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