It’s the biggest (and most under-reported) phenomenon of the 2016 elections. The latest outbreak, Montclair, N.J., home to the respected traditional public schools for middle and upper income suburbanites. Charters are fine in nearby Newark, but in Montclair? Not so fast.
Here you see it in Massachusetts, where voters are set to decide whether to raise the cap on charter schools. In Massachusetts, it’s the business-oriented liberals in places such as Wellesley and the low-income/minority Democrat-voting Boston parents whose children attend charters who will vote to raise the cap versus the union-oriented liberals and the “progressive” Democrats concentrated in the Pioneer Valley voting against. Justin Cohen has a good take on this.
But the divide takes on several flavors. In Nashville, where upper-income whites played the key role in recently switching the school board to an anti-choice stance, the issue appeared to be about protecting exclusive access to high performing schools available just to those homeowners. Charters were seen as a threat to that status quo. The same was true in Los Angeles, where the higher-income white neighborhoods went against charter founder Ref Rodriquez in his school board election bid.
It is starting to mirror the opt-out movement, which was mostly driven by well-off white parents concluding that the “poor kids” tests meant to spark more accountability in poor neighborhoods did little for their kids. (Just for the record, they are right about that. I’m amazed they held in there as long as they did).
So is that same phenomenon about to turn the tide against charter schools? Highly possible.