Marvel and Bendis Want to Talk Charter Schools But Can’t Get Their Facts Straight

With the introduction of a new Ultimate Spider-Man in Miles Morales, Brian Michael Bendis and Marvel comics has decided to use the opportunity to discuss Charter Schools and their role in the modern education system.  Joe Quesada has talked about he and Bendis being inspired by the documentary, Waiting for Superman.  He had this to say about that:

Now while I don’t want to give too much away, over the years I’ve been really intrigued by the revolutionary work being done by educator Geoffrey Canada, and as we looked deeper into Miles’ character, I suggested to Brian that he watch the documentary, “Waiting For Superman” (ironic, I know!). Bri loved it, and the wheels started turning.

The announcement caused grumblings that Marvel was taking and anti-Union stance with the storyline as the documentary isn’t too kind for them, leading to this piece written by Rick Avers on the Huffington Post about the movie’s errors.  An outcry hit the blogosphere that the new Spidey will now be taking on union busting as part of his super hero gig.

In an interview on Word Balloon, Bendis waived his Union credentials and told people to wait to see how the story plays out, and I did.  Well, the first chapter has been released with Ultimate Spider-Man #1, and after one issue I think Marvel’s writers need to go back and do some more research.  From the comic book:

The two panels shows Miles Morales heading to his uncle’s after being accepted to a charter school.  His uncle asks, “Your daddy gonna be able to pay for it?” in reference to the school.  The problem is that’s not factually correct as to how charter schools work.  We followed up with an expert on the subject, a member of the American Federation of Teachers, about whether charter schools charge tuition as the panel implies.

I can’t really tell what’s going on in the panel. Is that the school that the kid is at? Looks like Bubbles’ basement in “The Wire.”

Charter schools are not supposed to charge tuition. They don’t. Some have requirements that parents volunteer their time (which, obviously, is like contributing money) and may have “activity fees” that are implied to be mandatory but are not. These are supposed to be public schools, so they should be free like all public schools.

Maybe Marvel’s writers are mixing up private schools and charter schools?  No matter the excuse or the reason, it’s hard to take serious their exploration of the subject if simple facts of whether or not you have to pay to go isn’t correctly portrayed.  I went from being open and intrigued by a storyline to back being nervous in a few incorrect sentences.