Have you had trouble sifting through so much information? One of our readers suggested we provide a pro and con chart to help structure the issues we post. Then you can search the blog to find examples, citations, and more information about each topic. Seems like a practical idea. See what you think.
In reply to Sue Legg’s question: “What do we do to make all schools a good choice?”, I would say confine public funds to non-charter public schools, the historic strength of our democracy.
Funding is so uneven both within and across states. Florida is last in per student funding based on per capita income and 48th overall. Given that property taxes now make up such a large percentage of school funding, low income areas are in real trouble. Money won’t fall from the sky, so we have to look at how and where it is spent. It will take a lot of political will power. The current panacea is online education. The pitfalls in that are huge.
I agree with nhbrandt that the children of parents who are not willing or able to navigate the charter school selection process will be at a significant disadvantage. The purpose of public education is to provide advantages, not disadvantages, to all our children.
OK, but the counter argument I hear is that parents who care and will navigate the hurdles should have the opportunity to find a better alternative. Parents have a difficult time judging whether the alternative is actually better. What do we do to make all schools a good choice?
These schools should be primarily for the students, not for the parents — acting as consumers, shopping for the best. We shouldn’t have to give in to consumerism. I agree, however, that all schools should be a good choice. But…
Perhaps that is similar to, but not quite the same thing as, making sure that “choice” always includes the option of a good quality traditional neighborhood school. If all the schools are charters in a neighborhood, as has happened in Chicago, then those neighborhoods have no school center around which the community can organize. Look at the role that neighborhood schools play in the suburbs and used to play in the city. They are and were the heart of the community. Even good charters, drawing from many parts of the city, cannot replace that heart.
We need to explore these issues some more. What information would be helpful? Funding issues? Teaching strategies? Others?
Here is another Con: Charter schools and school choice, in general, turn parents into consumers instead of the citizens of a school community that we hope they will be. And the process of selecting schools is necessarily competitive, producing winners and losers. We do not want any of our children to be losers. the children of those parents with the skills and initiative to navigate the charter selection process will be winners,
and a process that becomes self-selected..
Interesting way to summarize pros and cons. There needs to be a caveat, however, because state laws governing charter schools vary, so some of the items may not apply to the state one is interested in.
Point well taken. The management problems, however, occur across the nation. See the Annenberg Report. The facilities issues do differ when states allow conversion of public schools to charters or share traditional public and charters in the same building. A few states do not permit for-profit charter management firms, though non-profits also have fiscal mismanagement issues.