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  An American Manifesto
Tuesday September 30, 2014 
by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter

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Telling the Story of America's Economic Success

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Charter Schools Thrive in Minneapolis: World Doesn't Come To End

by Christopher Chantrill
March 02, 2006 at 3:47 am

THE BIG OBSTACLE to school choice is fear. It’s the fear that everyone will flee the public schools for charter schools and voucher schools and leave a disaster behind. A generation of kids will be lost in that disaster.

It’s easy to imagine such a scenario, and that is why the forces of reaction have played it up, fanning fears of chaos among parents.

In Minneapolis the end of the world scenario is playing out right before our very eyes. But don’t worry. The world isn’t coming to an end.

Minnesota has a pretty liberal law for forming charter schools, reports Katherine Kersten,

In 1990 Minnesota allowed students to cross district boundaries to enroll in any district with open seats. Two years later in St. Paul, the country's first charter school opened its doors... Today, this tradition of choice is providing a ticket out for kids in the gritty, mostly black neighborhoods of north and south- central Minneapolis.

OK. Let’s stop right there. Hallelujah!

Something momentous is happening here in the home of prairie populism: black flight. African-American families from the poorest neighborhoods are rapidly abandoning the district public schools, going to charter schools, and taking advantage of open enrollment at suburban public schools. Today, just around half of students who live in the city attend its district public schools.

As this is happening, the city school system is cratering. And the parents and voters aren’t holding their hands and waiting for Armageddon. They are asking why the school district isn’t doing a better job at improving its schools and adapting to lower enrollment.

The district has handled budget cutbacks and school closings ineptly, leading some parents to joke bitterly about its tendency to penalize success and reward failure.
...
Black leaders like Louis King have had enough. He has a message for the school board: "You'll have to make big changes to get us back." He says the district needs a board that views families as customers and understands that competition has unalterably changed the rules of the game. "I'm a strong believer in public education," says Mr. King. "But this district's leaders have to make big changes or go out of business. If they don't, we'll see them in a museum, like the dinosaurs."

That’s the kind of attitude I like to see. All of a sudden, the burden of proof has shifted from the school choice advocates to the defenders of the status quo. The folks in Minneapolis believe that if the public school system is failing it is the schools’ problem not the parents’ problem. You know what? They are right.

That is a huge win for school choice.

And, after all, if you can get out, to another school district or to a charter school, why worry? In ten years or so the system will be fixed and everyone will live happily ever after.

Best of all, school choice advocates will be able to point to Minneapolis and say to the fearful: Be Not Afraid. School choice is not the end of the world. They tried it in Minneapolis, and it worked.

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


 TAGS


What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


Racial Discrimination

[T]he way “to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,” Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District


Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Churches

[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm


Sacrifice

[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values


Pentecostalism

Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self


Drang nach Osten

There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion


Government Expenditure

The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill