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Keller @ Large: Charter School Debate Becomes Toxic

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(WBZ-TV)

(WBZ-TV)

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS) – You might not know this from reading here every day, but I am actually quite an optimistic person.

I expect the storm Wednesday to take a right turn and miss us; I predict spring will follow soon afterward.

I expect the new shandy made from ‘Gansett and Del’s Lemonade to be delicious.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

But after spending Monday talking to both sides in the ever-uglier dispute over non-union charter schools and their role in rescuing kids from failing public schools, I’m thoroughly depressed.

Part of that funk stems from the fact that I’ve been following the charter school saga closely here for twenty years, and have seen the political climate surrounding it go from bad to horrible.

Charter schools started out here as a bi-partisan effort to break the cycle of failure in too many school systems and give working-class parents the same choice of a better school that more-affluent citizens have. Their success is documented in test scores, graduation rates, and the huge waiting lists for charter seats.

But the debate over them has become poisoned, mostly due to the never-ending war on charters by teacher union leaders who see students as meal tickets, not children.

Years of their shameless anti-charter propaganda have taken their toll on some charter school advocates, who have reacted to a flawed but sincere effort on Beacon Hill to raise the cap on charters with suspicion and contempt. Meanwhile, the expanding role of for-profit corporations in the charter school movement has given its enemies fuel for their cynicism.

It’s a toxic environment with the likely outcome of less educational opportunity for poor kids, not more.

And it’ll take more than an ice-cold shandy to make me feel any better about that.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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