A Moratorium on Charter Schools

I would favor a moratorium on charter schools, and to freeze funding for them at current levels. Any school that receives public funds should have a unionized workforce and be subject to public oversight through an elected Board of Education.

On the one hand, many parents in low-income neighborhoods favor charter schools because the public school system has failed so dramatically. Some (but certainly not all) charter schools have pioneered innovations in education that reflect their utility as arenas to develop new models and alternatives.

On the other hand, charter schools siphon resources that would otherwise go towards public schools to instead be directed to private initiatives, ensuring a vicious cycle and eroding aggregate outcomes even where charter schools successfully improve educational outcomes for the students who attend those programs. Charter schools are also generally not unionized, and thus represent an assault on not only public education, but also organized labor.

I recognize that public education is a matter of right, and also that charter schools can’t possibly meet the need for educational services at the scale required (while also recognizing that). That’s why I choose to defend public education by resisting any expansion among charter schools.

All this said, most decisions surrounding charter schools happen at the state and district (rather than federal) level. We’re eager to do what we can to help from Washington, including by pressing the federal Dept. of Education to stop promoting charter schools as a supposed solution to our crisis in public education.

Here in SF, the greatest challenge with respect to public education is simply ensuring that there will be students left to attend them. That in turn, implicates affordable housing for two reasons: we need to ensure that teachers can continue to live in SF, and that families can survive here without needing to move. SF could become the first city without children, which would represent a sad erosion of our civic culture.

In addition, on the issue of secular vs religious schools, any school the maintains a right to discriminate against students or staff must forgo the right to any government funding.