theodp (442580) writes ""You go to these charters," gushed Bill Gates in 2010, "and you sit and talk to these kids about how engaged they are with adults and how much they read and what they think about and how they do projects together." Four years later, Gates is tapping his Foundation's piggybank to bring charter schools to Washington State, doling out grants that included $4.25 million for billionaire HP CEO Meg Whitman's Summit Public Schools. So what's not to like? Plenty, according to Salon's The Truth About Charter Schools, in which Jeff Bryant delves into the dark side of the charter movement, including allegations of abuse, corruption, lousy instruction, and worse results. Also troubling Bryant is that the children of the charter world's biggest cheerleaders seem never to attend these schools ("A family like mine should not use up the inner-city capacity of these great schools," was Bill Gates' excuse). Bryant also cites Rethinking Schools' Stan Karp, who argues that Charter Schools Are Undermining the Future of Public Education, functioning more like deregulated “enterprise zones” than models of reform, providing subsidized spaces for a few at the expense of the many. "Our country has already had more than enough experience with separate and unequal school systems," Karp writes. "The counterfeit claim that charter privatization is part of a new 'civil rights movement', addressing the deep and historic inequality that surrounds our schools, is belied by the real impact of rapid charter growth in cities across the country. At the level of state and federal education policy, charters are providing a reform cover for eroding the public school system and an investment opportunity for those who see education as a business rather than a fundamental institution of democratic civic life. It's time to put the brakes on charter expansion and refocus public policy on providing excellent public schools for all.""