Detroit charter school salutatorians use their graduation speeches to condemn their school for putting profits before kids

Charter schools are for union busting!

Screw charter schools!


It’s true, on the whole there’s no clear evidence that charter schools outperform traditional public schools. But, as evidenced in the CREDO study that I linked to above, the case is different in large urban environments where “Urban charter schools in the aggregate provide significantly higher levels of annual growth in both math and reading compared to their traditional public school peers.”

It’s exactly in these environments where students of color and students from low-income households have few high-quality school choices.

But, again, this started as less an argument for charter schools’ performance and more about whether charters are racist and profit-driven. That perspective is without evidence. On the contrary, the charter school movement arose out of a commitment to education as a civil right, especially for historically marginalized communities.

Charter schools help create that gap by pulling funding away from public school systems.


Can you provide evidence of that? Most research has been mixed about the financial impact of charters on traditional public schools (see for an overview of the research).

To your point about union-busting, it’ll be interesting to watch the growing movement to unionize in charter schools (

I’m a fan of unions and charter schools, except when either stand in the way of helping students reach their full potential.

Which means there is no clear evidence they should have taxpayer support. Meaning they should not be charter schools at all, but private ones.

The downside to charter schools are that they violate many of the requirements of taxpayer subsidized education. They can engage in discrimination and game their stats by winnowing out students.

“Urban charter schools in the aggregate provide significantly higher levels of annual growth in both math and reading compared to their traditional public school peers.”

Which is largely a function of lacking the mandate to teach children in an entire community. As stated, they can remove their poor performing students and game their stats. Since they are diverting money from public schools, they are increasing their performance stats by attacking the ability of public schools to operate effectively. They are parasitic by nature.

That is not a bug of charter schools, it is a feature. Their support is heavily due to their ability to discriminate and cronyism/corrupt local practices.


Hey all, I’m going to bow out of this debate. These talking points have been regurgitated extensively on other places across the web, and without a commitment to back up statements like this with research, I’m just not interested in participating.

Yes, charters are racist, profit-seeking, union-busting evils. For some reason, this progressive liberal supports their right to exist because he’s seen the changes they’ve made in students’ lives.

Both of my kids attend (one is graduating today), and my wife teaches at a non-profit charter school which focuses on the arts and global education. Pretty much every accusation towards the “bad” charter schools is not the case with us. The school receives no more funding than any other school, getting into the school is a blind lottery (the only exception is that siblings of existing students get priority), the school regularly outperforms other schools in the district, the teachers are allowed to use progressive teaching techniques (non-violent communication, expeditionary learning, project-based learning, etc.) the teachers win more school district grants than any other school (these are judged blindly by the district. My wife just won a grant for her curriculum for the 4th year in a row), there is less emphasis on standardized testing, the district performs all oversight, students learn in hands-on centers as opposed to primarily lecture-based learning, it’s a huge wonderful community, etc. etc. etc.

The school is run by a non-profit board which I think makes a large difference. Like the medical industry, once profits are introduced the ones who suffer are the patients/students.

Our school is a great alternative for families. We’ve had a lot of students that did poorly at “traditional” school, were bullied, didn’t fit in, you name it. Our hippie dippie school has worked wonders for some kids, including my own, by focusing on the “whole child” instead of one subject at a time.


I think this will be my first and last BBS post. I’ve always enjoyed the fun (often science related) posts here. The writers seemed a bit insane but if not for BB I would never have made Duradango Balls

And while some sites that I frequent have opposing views I’ve never seen that in BBS. I assume the site leans on the authoritarian side and chooses not to engage or have their ideas challenged. So I’m guessing this post will not see the light of day but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

I worked with a private charitable foundation that did a lot of work with charters. I know Corey Doctorow is not a journalist - as BBS is more of fun site - but his lack of accuracy regarding charters is pretty amazing.

First item of business is that charter schools are public schools . I’m not sure if Corey is aware of corporate structure. In the case of the school in the article they are a public school operating under Detroit public schools. As such they are non-profit. I’m not sure if Corey has any familiarity with non-profits but any inurement of benefits or “profits” extracted fall under a host of Federal laws and IRS rules https : // www . irs . gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/inurement-private-benefit-charitable-organizations. It would be hard for the school to do this and illegal.

With the school in question they DO contract the services of a for-profit company which could be a problem. The public charter school [has a board](http : // www . universalpsa . org/about/board/) and this board would have to sign off on the use of the “for-profit” company. As much as some hate for profit companies - if they can provide a better education within the appropriate rules and regulations then the public charter school can hire them. The service company could be ripping off students/parents but no evidence of that is provided in the post or that I can find online. They did fire a bunch of people and it would be interesting to know why. Interestingly they get pretty good reviews from Glassdoor. There are valid reasons to fire people and a for-profit company providing services to a public charter school can do so much easier than the traditional public school system. Without impugning the teachers fired at this school as a consumer I’d much rather my child be in an environment where teachers are accountable for their actions than not.

As a charter school parents have made a choice to send their children. I understand some people are against choice but intuitively the mechanism to fix a dysfunctional organizational structure is better than a traditional public school where physical address determines which school you go to as opposed to choice. I’m not saying that Hamadeh Educational Services (http : // www . hesedu . com/) is not a scam siphoning profits but I am saying they have a board who would have to be negligent or complicit and they have parents who chose the school and can choose to leave if the educational product is unsatisfactory. As a traditional public school your clients are bound by physical address and you have one level of board oversight. As a public charter your clients can leave whenever they want and you have your own board plus the oversight of the county or district public school board.

Anyway if there is one thing I hope Corey understands is that charter schools are public schools. If a distinction needs to be made call one a traditional public school and the other a public charter school.


It’s simple math: per-student funding follows students, but operating costs of administering schools are fixed.

To your point about union-busting, it’ll be interesting to watch the growing movement to unionize in charter schools (

Less than 10% of charter schools are unionized. For 15 years I have mostly heard about charter schools only through repeated articles similar to this one:

How Charter Schools Bust Unions: By intimidating teachers. By scaring parents. And sometimes by calling the cops.

What is your evidence that charter schools are not more or less overwhelmingly union-busting institutions?

I’m a fan of unions and charter schools, except when either stand in the way of helping students reach their full potential.

I am a fan of eliminating charter schools as an institution completely, and competently funding quality public school education.


You must not be familiar with the charter schools in Michigan. They are the deepest cesspool of DeVosian foulness. They are everything Cory says x10.

There are a broad range of charter schools across the US, and both of my kids went to a (public) charter school, with unionized & credentialed teachers. I would consider it one of the good ones, and I’m still against charter schools as a whole.

BTW, you probably don’t want to go against Cory on the racist origins of charters. He’s got that one nailed.


See above, I’ve worked in Michigan and am well aware of their awful charter schools. I’m a proponent of ending charters for low-performing schools (of which there are many).

But, I will take issue with Cory’s assertion that the charter movement arose out of racism. He’s failed to provide evidence of that history. I know several of the leaders of the early charter school movement in Minnesota. Racists, they are not.

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competently funding quality public school education.
Me too.

But, I don’t think we need to eliminate charter schools (or magnet schools, which also rely on vouchers) to do so.

No they aren’t. They are privately run schools which receive public funding. Public schools are entirely government run entities. This is simply a form of outsourcing and privatization of education to entities outside the public sphere.

Fact is, much of the success of charter schools comes from having the ability to remove poorly performing students. Something public schools cannot and would be wrong to do anyway.

Charter schools do not represent a choice in any way because they are funded through taking out money from the public school system. They are built up at the expense of the public system. Any claims of “choice” are fictional. Choice would be between public schools and purely privately funded schools. This is simply appropriating public money away from public need to fund private interests. Corporate welfare at the expense of taxpayers.


Magnet schools are not charter schools. Magnet schools are entirely publicly funded and run.


I believe you, and that you have the students’ best interest at heart. But the origin of charter schools is very much racist.

Here’s the 30-second breakdown:

  1. Desegregation forced by Brown v Board of Education
  2. First wave of resegregation achieved with religious private schools
  3. Public schools defunded starting from the Federal Level down. Public schools struggle.
  4. Teachers unions come under heavy attack from the right. Main argument is performance, after 70% of federal public school funding is drained.
  5. Charter schools floated as a kind of educational R&D
  6. Charter schools “hijacked” by racists, religious fundies, and corporate profiteers to kick off 2nd wave of resegregation. Added “benefit” of being able to funnel white kids to one kind of charter and POC to another.
  7. Public schools struggle more as what little funding that remains gets funneled to charters.

Literally every point you posted is inaccurate with our school. Every single one. I understand that I’m spilling anecdotal data here but the blanket statement that all charters are bad is asinine.

I also want to be quite clear that the schools that put profits over the kids can go fuck themselves. There are bad schools that need to be shut down.

This is basically the problem I have with market “solutions” to issues which affect everyone.

I do not want to reward ‘rock star’ teachers, because that means that there are also teaching positions which are underfunded and will only be filled by people who have no place in the education system. I want ALL teachers to be valued, rewarded, and good at what they do. I don’t want ‘magnet schools’ (or whatever the fuck they’re called), because that inevitably means that there are - at the other end of the spectrum - schools that are underfunded and under-resourced and which guarantee their students a shitty standard of education.

By endorsing ‘reward the best’ you are publicly and for the record stating that some kids don’t deserve a good education.


See also: healthcare.


In the same school district as the one from Cory’s article is a historic STEM magnet school called Cass Tech. It was founded in 1907 and draws students from all over the DPSS for a science & engineering “immersion program”. White students are the minority (~1%) with ~82% African American enrollment. Cass is fully within the Detroit Public Schools.

Cass is almost completely the opposite of a charter school.


I am more than ok with the idea of schools differentiating themselves, based on stuff like uniform vs mufti, liberal vs strict discipline, arts focus vs STEM focus. But none of that should be tied to funding or accessibility.


They are technically. I’m not talking about how you “feel” about them. I’m talking about their corporate charter, their organizational status as recognized by the government and how they function mechanically. This one in the article does not file a tax return
as for-profit organizations do. The curriculum provider does but I already made that distinction. The attendees DO NOT make a check to the school. The public school district which the charter operates under provides funding. Tell you what - why don’t you call
the public school district in Detroit where the school in the article is - ask the district if the school in question is a public school. Then get back to me