School choice advocates offer caution about ‘woke’ charters

(The Daily Signal) – While often outperforming their public school counterparts, some charter schools are beholden to the same woke ideologies driving parents away from traditional neighborhood…

(The Daily Signal) – While often outperforming their public school counterparts, some charter schools are beholden to the same woke ideologies driving parents away from traditional neighborhood schools.

“School choice should yield schools with values that are aligned with those of parents,” Jay Greene, senior research fellow in the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy, told The Daily Signal in a statement Tuesday. Charter schools fail to do this because they represent a “constrained type of school choice.” 

Charters require state approval “to open and operate,” and they usually need funding from big philanthropies to obtain buildings, Greene added.

Greene, along with Heritage education Research Fellow Jason Bedrick and Education Freedom Institute Senior Fellow Ian Kingsbury, published a report Monday comparing charter schools unfavorably with fully private school choice options. 

Greene told The Daily Signal he recommends increasing the amount of state-approved authorizers and deregulating charter schools as solutions for this issue. He urges legislators to make charter school options more similar to fully private school choice options. That would enable an array of education options that align with parental values when they participate in school choice for their children.

“Because those [state-approved] authorizers and donors typically have values that are far to the left of the average parent, the range of charter options available to parents is skewed to the left,” Greene said. 

By comparing the prevalence of important words and phrases in charter school handbooks to the handbooks of nearby district public schools, Greene said he and his colleagues were able to record the degree of this charter school choice issue. “We found that the average charter school was much more ‘woke’ than the neighboring district school,” he explained.

In the report, Greene and his colleagues explain that parents choose to send their children to woke charter schools “either because they are among the minority” and actually agree with what is taught or because it’s the best option compared to other schools in the area. 

“No parent should be forced to sacrifice their values when exercising school choice,” Greene said.