Why Charter Schools?

In my book, “Ethical Meltdown,” I made a serious effort to stay away from my political views in making the case that our moral values in America have suffered substantially in the past 25 years. I believe that our best hope for reversing our moral decline is to start teaching ethics in kindergarten and continue all the way through college.

I also believe that the easiest starting point would be to introduce ethical values in charter schools since the classes are smaller, the teachers have more leeway without interference from unions, and finally because charter schools are rapidly growing in number and quality.

So why am I again raising this issue? It is because of Hillary Clinton and her recent change of heart regarding charter schools. Her press secretary explained to Politico Magazine that Mrs. Clinton “looks at the evidence.” Clinton admitted that for many years, she has supported the idea of charter schools, “but not as a substitute for the public schools.” She obviously did not know that charter schools are public schools. In addition, charter schools often have the hardest-to-teach children in their classes. The KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program), which started in Texas in 1995, now has over 183 charter schools in 20 states plus Washington D.C. Over 95% of KIPP students are African American or Latino and are accepted into the program regardless of their prior academic records.

Hillary Clinton’s change of heart apparently resulted from the endorsement of her presidential campaign by the American Federation of Teachers and the National Educatiom Association, both of which dislike the competition of charter schools.

Politics aside, charter schools are still the best hope for bringing back, early in our education system, the ethical values that made America the envy of the world.