While advocates of school reform seem to believe that opening a series of charter schools across the country will magically solve the achievement gap, the impact of endemic poverty, and every other social ill of American schools, Jonathan Kozol sees through the “promise” of charters:
It’s easy to create a hundred islands of short-term salvation for children of knowledgable families – those parents that knew how to get their kids into charter school lotteries for the few spaces available. But the hard thing is educating all the children in the neighborhood.
When I visited KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) Academy in the Bronx, they put on quite a nice show, but I never knew a South Bronx school with so many students with nice prescription glasses and nice Lands End backpacks.
Kozol is absolutely right. Aside from questionable results and statistics, there is precious little evidence that these schools can scale up to solve deep-rooted problems of American education. While films like Waiting for Superman present the promise of better schools for children living in poverty, Kozol’s challenge, that we adequately fund and equally treat students regardless of their demographics.