Salon has been running a series on the charter schools movement. They’re against it, as you might imagine. But it’s the language they use that is problematic.
For example, this is how the series starts off:
How this tiny Christian college is driving the right’s nationwide war against public schools
Exclusive: In the full-scale conservative assault on public education, Hillsdale College is leading the charge
Well, except that’s not actually true. Hillsdale College, the “tiny Christian college” in question, is part of a movement, yes, but it’s one of charter schools. Which are public schools.
According to the Education Commission of the States, “charter schools are semi-autonomous public schools that receive public funds.
They’re public schools, and as such, part of the public education system. The “semi-autonomous” part is the troubling piece, according to Salon. This means they’re free of the tender mercies of both the teachers’ unions and also the local education bureaucracy. This is why the local education bureaucracies and the teachers’ unions are so against them: After all, who wants to give up such expensively gained power?
There’s another manner in which the language used here is problematic, that those in favor of such charter schools are solely described as being religious extremists, even crazed ones. The entire series is a warning that the public school system will be overturned. Which, given that charters are public schools, obviously isn’t going to happen. It’s the current power structure fighting back against the public education system being taken away from it.
Salon is in the top hundred sites for law and government. It gains some 7 million visits a month from that position. More than that it’s influential in progressive policy circles.
This is why we really should pay attention to the sneering tone in which this is said in the article:
….yet another school board meeting packed with impassioned parents. But this time they’d come out, on a mild Southern California evening, not to let the board know how angry they were, but how delighted.
… mother after mother, with young children in tow or on their hips, came to the podium to say that their kids used to cry before going to school, but now were filled with confidence and wonder; that they had found a transformative community among the school’s other moms; that the teachers were giving their children “the best education in the entire country.”
How terrible is that, charter schools provide the education parents desire to have for their children? Well, don’t they realize, they’re supposed to put up with the schooling the education bureaucracies and unions are willing to give them and no more? And thus the reason the parents here are described as rubes and those providing those charter schools as extremists. People getting what they want just isn’t progressive, they should be happy with what the experts are willing to provide.