What AFT President Al Shanker thought initially was a progressive idea, but it was captured by the Waltons, the DeVos family and others on the extreme right that wanted to destroy public schools and teachers’ unions.
Thanks to Los Angeles blogger Sara Roos for calling my attention to this very interesting article by journalist Rachel Cohen. We have had an extended exchange about the article.
Cohen says that the typical origin story of charter schools credits the idea to AFT President Al Shanker. She shows that the idea was percolating long before Shanker began promoting charters in 1988. The idea of public-private partnerships was in the air in the late 1980s and was the underpinning of what was called Third Way politics, as practiced by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.
Cohen does an excellent job of describing the milieu in which the charter idea emerged. Shanker was not its originator but he was an important publicist for the idea. Without his support, charters might never have achieved national attention.
Right-wingers today, as Cohen notes, likes to credit paternity of charters to Shanker, which is amusing…
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