Magazine July 27, 2020, Issue

The Collapsing Case against Charter Schools

Parents and prospective students await the results of a charter-school lottery in Brooklyn, New York, April 7, 2009. (Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
Charter Schools and Their Enemies, by Thomas Sowell (Basic Books, 288 pp., $30)

Thomas Sowell — who will have just turned 90 when this review is published — could have retired by now. He could be publishing the memoirs of a celebrated intellectual or the late-career tracts of an éminence grise. What does he give us, instead? A methodologically rigorous, closely argued, data-driven case for charter schools, with very little high-flown rhetoric (I noted one exclamation point) and 94 pages of data tables. Charter Schools and Their Enemies is a bloodbath for Sowell’s intellectual opponents, and it ought to be a neutron bomb in the middle of the school-reform debate. But Thomas Sowell has

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