Sunday, February 3, 2013

NY Times Speaks Against Charter Schools

In their editorial this morning, the NY Times raises some interesting concerns about charter schools.  To be clear, they're mostly targeting charter schools that are performing worse than the district they serve.  There's a good bit of that going on.  They also question those charter authorizers who fail to exercise oversight once the charter is granted.  This is a refrain I've heard in our community quite a bit- people wondering what the criteria is that establishes whether a charter school "adds to" the value of public education or not.

I'm specifically NOT calling on SCCBOE to shut down BCS, and I actually have never done so.  The only thing I'd ask is that we get something in exchange for the bargain.  Charter schools operate with taxpayer funds, and they do so without many of the restrictions that constrain traditional public schools.  In exchange for that funding and the reduced oversight, someone should be asking hard, measurable questions.  To any charter school, at the top, the middle, or the bottom, I'd like to see specific things that they call out as being different in their program, and how the specifically tie that to an improved student outcome.  If you're meeting that hurdle, I'm all for it.  But if the chartering agency allows a charter to operate without returning something to the equation, then that charter is really just operating outside the spectrum of public education for the sole benefit of those select students.   I'd love for someone to take a concerted approach (peer review?) to look at specific charter schools and examine what they're contributing back into the equation.

That level of review would actually benefit everyone.  Children in the school would benefit because they'd know what is helping fuel their success.  Children in other schools would also benefit because there would be clear data that shows a better way to operate a school.

That's one of those things I might do if I were part of the authorizing entity, and if I weren't tied up with lawyers. 

Read the editorial here