Dmitri Mehlhorn, Democratic donor, activist, and investor, is in in the midst of a multi part debate on charter schools with anti reform blogger Mark Weber, aka Jersey Jazzman, who has been gracious enough to host the back and forth on his blog. Mehlhorn makes a strong case against policies that block charter growth and limit parents' choices, policies that Jersey Jazzman supports.
Let’s be blunt: policies that block charter growth in urban areas do not limit choices for affluent parents, but they overrule the wishes of many parents who face residential segregation. In constitutional law, a policy decision that has a disproportionate impact on blacks and Hispanics is subject to “strict scrutiny.” The evidence has to demonstrate a compelling public rationale for the policy, and the policy has to be crafted in the least-onerous possible fashion in terms of burdens on black and Hispanic families. Given these dynamics, Jazzman needs to demonstrate a compelling goal that can only be achieved by blocking the growth of urban charters. This is the appropriate burden of proof as long as affluent parents exercise their own choices, and as long as there are wait lists full of disadvantaged families.
Dmitri Mehlhorn is a parent and school volunteer, as well as a Democratic donor and activist. He is a member of several boards, including that of StudentsFirst and several early stage companies, and he was a co-founder of Hope Street Group. He has earned degrees in political science, education policy and law from Stanford, Harvard, and Yale, respectively.