Commentary and Criticism about the National Education Association (NEA)
Let me state at the outset that I don’t have a real strong opinion for or against charter schools. If they are held financially accountable, produce decent academic results and parents like them, then why not allow them?
I actually taught at an urban charter school for a couple of years before getting a position at a standard public school. One thing I can say for certain is that the parents loved the school because of the small classes, individual attention, uniforms and tighter discipline.
In any case, the point of this blog post is not to argue for or against charter schools.
So what is the point?
My goal is to make clear that the National Education Association used propaganda when it posted an article on its Education Votes website on November 28, 2017.
As a dues-paying member of the NEA, I don’t deserve this propaganda – I deserve the truth. But since my union didn’t provide the truth, I had to spend this past weekend ferreting it out for myself.
Don't worry, I still got my lesson plans done :)
The article in question was: “Charter school experiment has ‘failed,’ concludes national investigation”
The specific wording in the article was even more damning than the title would suggest. According to the NEA, charter schools have not just “failed,” their model of education is a “fiscal and education disaster [bold, italics and underline added].”
Strong words indeed.
BUT, BUT, BUT … THE NETWORK FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION SAYS SO!
What backs up the NEA’s strong commentary on charter schools?
A report published by the Network for Public Education.
Let’s see if my “non-rocket science” background can analyze the situation that we have here.
An organization which is “for Public Education” funds a report that comes to the conclusion that the charter school experiment has “failed.”
Surely we can accept the report’s conclusions as legitimate …
There can’t be any bias …
ABOUT THAT NETWORK FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION …
“The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society.”
Quote From the Network for Public Education Action
Let’s drill down a bit here. An advocacy group is “a group of people who work to support an issue or protect and defend a group of people.”
Well, I didn’t have to drill down too far because that about sums it up. According to Tax Exempt World, the Network for Public Education is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
This means that it is able to raise money tax-free in order to fight for public education. If the fight for public education involves trashing competitors (i.e. charter schools) in the meantime, then so be it I guess.
MEMBERS DESERVE BETTER INFORMATION
But maybe the report, Charters and Consequences: An Investigative Series by the Network for Public Education, is actually correct.
Maybe the NEA had every right to highlight this report and make its conclusions known far and wide.
Unfortunately, my research says otherwise.
Realistically, I shouldn’t have expected the NEA to be unbiased on the question of charter schools. It is common knowledge that it has mixed feelings about the legitimacy of these institutions. You can read the details of its viewpoint in the NEA Policy Statement on Charter Schools.
Still, this does not excuse the “hit” piece that they decided to publish.
As I indicated above, members deserve better.
THE NEA IGNORES “ALTERNATE” FACTS
A quick Google search provides a completely different perspective on charter schools. You can click on any of the links included below if you want details, but suffice it to say that the only fair conclusion is that the jury is still out.
One thing, however, is certain.
The NEA’s declaration that the “Charter School experiment has failed,” is way overblown.
The Unappreciated Success of Charter Schools, Adam Ozimek, January 11, 2015
Charter school experiment a success: Our view
This next link is from a charter school supporting web site so read it with a grain of salt. I include it because I consider it to be pretty much equivalent to the NEA’s piece. They both are biased in their own way. The point is simply that you need to consider the source of your information.
Facts About Charters
This is an interesting article. My thought here is that if they are taking the time to rank charter schools then this must mean that there is some success.
US News & World Report Charter Rankings
City’s thriving charter schools find success with closer attention to individual kids, high expectations of students (2014)
Study: Charter High Schools Have 7-11% Higher Graduation Rates Than Their Public School Peers (2014)
The facts are in: NYC’s charter schools are a smashing success, James D. Merriman, March 2016
Celebrate Charter School Success, Neil Campbell 10/5/17
Charter school’s success causes focus change, March 15, 2017