William McGurn writes in this week’s Wall Street Journal about a seemingly strange political alliance. The Rev. William Meeks, a Democratic Illinois State Senator introduced a bill to provide school vouchers to 42,000 students in some of Chicago’s worst schools. In fact, the growing call for vouchers, and charter schools has increased support from many Democrats. Those with the greatest stakes in education are the parents of children in failed districts.
The status quo tends to be guarded, not suprisingly, by those who have the most to lose from school competition and choice: the teachers unions and politicians who benefit from their support.
Reform appears to be percolating in New Jersey. This week the New Jersey Department of Education approved the first Mandarin-English charter school in the state, bringing the state’s charter school total to 68.
Control over schools is at the heart of a recent reform in Los Angeles. This Tuesday, the state’s Board of Education voted to award control of 30 of its schools to teachers’ groups, or to charter school groups. Most went to the teachers, leading charter school groups to protest. The teacher’s unions generally oppose charters because they don’t require teachers be hired under union contracts.
The tension between charter schools and the teachers unions has been a major challenge in the school reform movement. For more, see the recent documentary, The Cartel.