Kristof, 10/14/09:So time and again, we see the decline of public services accompanied by the rise of private workarounds for the wealthy.[...]Are public schools failing? Well, superb private schools have spaces for a mere $40,000 per child per year. [emphasis mine]
It’s difficult to improve failing schools when you can’t create alternatives such as charter schools and can’t remove inept or abusive teachers.Got that? According to Kristof, public schools suffer because they have to educate poor children while the wealthy are sequestered in their own schools. And charter schools are a necessary alternative to "failing" schools.
The only thing that would make this argument fall apart would be if the charter schools themselves segregated students by socio-economic status:
Oh, my. How about an anecdote?
My daughter is so excited to be here. It's only been a week and she already loves it at this new school," said a parent of a 3rd-grader. "Her and six of her classmates transferred from the same private school, and they're all so excited about coming here."[emphasis mine]Charter schools are, unfortunately, increasing segregation. It is, therefore, intellectually inconsistent to claim to be worried about schools that segregate by class while simultaneously supporting charters.
While I admire Kristof's work on poverty throughout the world, he has shown a troubling lack of sophistication on the issue of American public education. But why should he be any different from the vast majority of the punditocracy?