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On Sunday, Rolling Stone published a report authored by scholars at the Columbia School of Journalism about the magazine’s repeated failings with regard to its notorious University of Virginia rape article.
Since the report was published, an array of commenters have lamented the supposed death of journalistic standards in the Internet age. What they should really be worrying about is something even scarier — the death of liberalism itself.
By “liberalism,” I do not mean American liberalism (or progressivism, as it is more accurately dubbed), but rather liberalism in the classical sense. That is, the system of free speech, property rights, and the rule of law that serves as the foundation of Western society. The fact that Sabrina Rubin Erdely could print such a libelous article without a peep of inquiry from Rolling Stone’s editors, and the article could cause such a frenzy so as to suspend fraternity life at UVA without a disciplinary hearing, points to an even deeper cancer than one of journalism.
Due process is under threat at modern American universities, as is evident in the case of sexual assault. Instead of respecting law enforcement’s responsibility to investigate, try, and punish actual rapists, universities instead opt to hold such hearings in kangaroo courts in the form of disciplinary hearings — where the burden of proof is almost always lower than that of actual criminal courts.
As such, it boggles the mind to think of all the former students who have been expelled and had their professional lives ruined because of a false rape accusation that their university, and not a court of law, deemed to be true.
One of the most frequently-used arguments in favor of charter schools is that bad charter schools can be quickly shut down, whereas bad public schools can continue year after year doing a disservice to their students with a near-guaranteed stream of taxpayer-funding.
A new Stanford University study shows that urban charter schools, on average, perform better than public schools. But it should come as no surprise that there are charter schools that score poorly on traditional metrics.
So the question is, who should decide which charter schools are “bad” and must be closed?
Typically, it’s up to the charter school’s sponsor — be it a state, local or other institution — to close a charter school. In Washington, D.C., there is a charter school board that makes the call.
Still, the factor of parental choice is often lost in this debate. If enough parents want to keep sending their kids, should government tell them they cannot?
In a USA Today column published Tuesday, author Richard Whitmire made the case for shutting down bad charter schools. One of the key phrases in his opening paragraph about Benjamin Banneker Charter School of Technology in Kansas City, Mo., was “Banneker parents seem to like it.” Whitmore goes on to say that closing bad charter schools is essential for the charter school movement. He emphasizes that the purpose of independently operated, publicly funded charter schools is that they outperform other publicly funded schools.
The argument holds water, but taxpayer funds serve the public best when individual parents can choose where those funds go. With charter schools, funding follows the child from their traditional public school to the charter school. The funding given to charter schools isn’t just a revenue stream, but money tied to a family that has paid its share of taxes and deserves to choose where those taxes get spent.