The Role of Poverty in The School Board Election

OF COURSE poverty is the problem, but that is all the more reason for charter schools.

The tragedy of this years’ Seattle School Board election illustrates the fallacy of those who oppose charter schools.  In my District, District 5,  we had three candidates.  None of these had the credentials that I or any parent would want if we were selecting the board to run our own schools.  Leaving aside the reasons that more qualified people do not compete for these unpaid jobs, why should poor children be forced to go to schools run by such poorly qualified activists?

Racism and the Trayvon Martin affair enter this equation too.  Most of the liberal opposition to charter schools comes from white libarals … people who mean well but seem to me to often be patronizing to others who are marked by skin color and poverty.  I especially wonder whether white liberals would be comfortable with a Somali Charter School that emphaized East African Culture?  Why shouldn’t Somali parents have the right ot create such a school as long as it is open to people of other cultures?   Should that school have ot be “better” than a traditional pubic school in order to be funded as a public school?

The text below was posted on a “progressive” listserv and illustrates the problem parents face as a result of liberal bias againmst poor people and conservative determination not to allow tax money to be used to pay for good schools.

Donald Smith  wrote:


Conservatives love to hate public schools and public school teachers.

Every chance they get, conservatives (more properly called “regressives”) blame public schools for the poor educational outcomes of students in poor neighborhoods.  They also point to the supposed low performance of American students compared to students of other countries.

Conservatives are  promoting charter schools, despite the lack of evidence that charter schools are any better than public schools and despite questions about whether they’re even constitutional in Washington State.  Conservative lawmakers in Washington State haven’t granted cost of living adjustments to public teachers’ salaries for several years now.


For a while I’ve been wondering how American’s K-12 schools would rank against schools in other countries if we adjusted for the large lower class in the U.S. Does poverty explain most or all of the poor performance of American students?  I found my answer in this article by the Economic Policy Institute,  What do international tests really show about U.S. student performance?  In summary: we can blame poverty, not public schools, for most of the problems with American education.


The countries that outperform America in education (Finland, South Korea, Canada, Japan, and Singapore) have public schools. See Public schools win internationally.

For the complete article see:

Why we can blame poverty, not public schools

Mr. Smith’s use of the term “charter school” is far, far from accurate.  All this term means is that like minded parents are able to work with teachers to create and govern a school WITHIN A PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM!  The charter schools receive no special funding. Why shouldn’t parents from White Center have that opportunity as much as parents from Broadmore?  Charter schools ARE pubic schools .. the only difference is that parents get to choose what sort of school their kids go to..

Poor parents … even those with great ambitions for their children, have NO control over what their children are taught in our public schools. Instead, central board that are heavily driven by the politically active upper classes decide what will be taught and how it will be taught in the public schools. One need look no farther than Seattle to realize that the children of most underprivileged minorities, esp the children of the rising class of African Americans, are going to private schools even when their parents are active in Seattle School politics.

That right to choose your own kid’s education trumps ANY concern you should have that the charter schools are no better than the traditional public schools.

From my desktop
Steve Schwartz

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