Skip to content

Charter Schools are not Public Schools

February 12, 2009 am28 7:06 am

Nor are they private schools. Charter schools are a hybrid.

If we polled the American public, we’d find that some people know this. We’d find that many think charters are purely private.

But charter advocates are intentionally deceptive.

Here’s Bloomberg pushing “charters are public schools” earlier this week.

Here’s Gotham Schools last month, offering some strange wording to make the same point.

Why do charter advocates insist on saying that charter schools are public schools? Idk. And speculating is beyond the scope of this post.

But most people get it. Public schools are public schools. Private schools are private schools. Charters are somewhere in between.

History, fwiw, agrees. Privately run, open to the public “Charity Schools” were replaced by what the public now calls “public schools.”

11 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2009 am28 8:48 am 8:48 am

    What about pilot schools or site-based managed district schools?

  2. February 12, 2009 pm28 6:35 pm 6:35 pm

    Please define “public school” for me.

    I always thought, from the moment I entered NYC public schools as a kindergartener to when I graduated attending public schools K-12, to when I started teaching in one after graduating from college, that a New York public school was a school organized under the NYS Board of Regents, charging no tuition and subject to NYS education law.

    Where on earth do you get off saying that charter schools don’t fit that definition? Please put your agenda aside and study some facts.

    And yes, charter schools are ALSO private schools. They are privately run, as independent 501(c)3 nonprofits (in NYS, that nonprofit status is mandatory for all charter schools).

    So they are not “hybrids.” They are fully public schools in every sense of the word, and fully private in the way they are operated.

  3. February 12, 2009 pm28 10:15 pm 10:15 pm

    Kitchen Sink,

    you carry nothing but agenda, but ask me to set mine aside?

    you claim that you were concerned about the Board of Regents and NYS education law when you were in kindergarten?

    I’ll still answer your questions, but I am none too happy responding to someone who arrives spouting disinformation.

    The phrase “public school” has traditionally been used in this country to refer to schools run by the government, usually local (municipal) government.

    Historically, “public schools” replaced “charity schools”.

    The relatively recent attempts to claim that there is not a long history of institutions called “public schools” is disingenuous. Charter advocates in particular have attempted to separate the phrase in such a way that the word “public” refers only to some aspects of the school. It is telling that they want to blur or hide the distinction.

    You ask “Where on earth do you get off saying that charter schools don’t fit that definition?”

    That’s easy. I am older than you. I have worked longer than you. I am smarter than you. And this is my blog.

    Plus, you set up a phony definition, then argued that your school fit it.

  4. February 13, 2009 pm28 4:25 pm 4:25 pm

    Certain phrases are set, or fixed. “Moving picture” – two words, an adjective and a noun. Yet we would gently explain to someone who thought that it means a single photograph of painting that changes position, no, its a phrase, and it means…

    Quarter horse. Two words. Adjective and noun. Yet not separable. It does not mean “a quarter of a horse”

    “Dirty rice.” Adjective + noun. But it does not mean “rice that is dirty” The noun and adjective have become bound, and take on together a particular, specific meaning.

    Likewise “public school” sits in our vocabulary (in the US) as a single phrase, with a particular meaning. These are schools run by the government, usually local, with the intent that all or most will send their children to attend, absent extenuating circumstances.

    It is an adjective and a noun, but it doesn’t mean a “school that is public” – but this is what the charteristas have been trying to do. They know that, at their core, the American people like public schools, and have attempted to confuse.

  5. February 13, 2009 pm28 9:24 pm 9:24 pm


    I don’t know how to answer your question. I do not think that either group you mention has waved around the phrase “public school” to intentionally confuse the public the way charter school advocates have.

    In other words, interesting question, but a non-issue.

  6. February 25, 2009 am28 1:31 am 1:31 am

    I’m not sure what your point is or why it bothers you if charter schools are referred to as public schools. I can tell you that from my point of view as a parent, charter schools appear to offer many of the advantages of a private school, with the biggest advantage: tuition. From my point of view, it is tuition that is the most important distinction for many parents, between public and private schools. From that point of view charter schools are public schools.

    What is the harm or deception supposedly being perpetrated here?

    • February 25, 2009 am28 8:14 am 8:14 am

      Fair question.

      1. They perform verbal gymnastics to say Charter Schools = Public Schools. They are the ones with an agenda. Look at the link at Gotham Schools. A professional writer twisted her words just in order to work that in.

      Why do I care? Start with, why do they care, which they certainly do. There is clearly a desire to blur or hide any distinction. But back to me. I don’t like charters, as currently constituted (in general) as an institution. I think they harm teachers and the profession, and I think they end up harming the neighborhoods in which they are placed.

      2. As a rule… charters employ temporary teachers… they discriminate against experience… a two or three year teacher is more likely to work excessive hours in difficult conditions… undermining conditions for career teachers… they are far far more likely to be non-union… You get the direction of complaint.

      3. Any institution that opens up primarily in poor neighborhoods should raise a red flag. As a rule… these schools test prep, instill discipline, don’t employ master teachers… They cream or skim from public schools, and starve public schools of resources.

      But we can argue about this. I don’t expect you to agree. But at least we can respect “regular” usage: “public school” “charter school” “parochial school” “private school”

  7. February 25, 2009 am28 1:32 am 1:32 am

    that should say “…withOUT the biggest DISadvantage: tuition…..”


  1. What’s the Deal with Charter Schools? | Mr. Bruno's Blog
  2. Charter Schools claim not to be public « JD2718

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: