Sunday, June 28, 2009

Can Charters Save Us?

Time Magazine asks the "profound" question, "Can Charter Execs Turn Around Failing Public Schools?" Of course, this is nowhere near a yes/no question, as the past twenty years have shown that some charters can dramatically improve student achievement, while others perform as poorly - and at times worse, with cases of abuse and corruption - as the neighborhood schools they were created to oppose.

As I've noted before, I think Colorado's model of open enrollment and generous support of charters is the best approach to the issue of school reform, especially in relation to the issue of "school choice." The issue with charters now, is not whether they can create a new "start-up" and provide an alternative for kids, but actually go into failing schools and improve them as is by applying their "charter model" to an existing student population.

Remains to be seen.


Daughter of Eve said...

Sorry, this is going to sound really silly: What are charter schools? I'm thinking they're internet schools, but I'm not sure... :)

~Queen Lucy~

Dennis Fermoyle said...

Michael, maybe you can help me out here. I'm up here in the boondocks, so my grasp of charter schools isn't a lot better than Queen Lucy's. I think the nearest one is 135 miles away. Because education is considered to be a property right of students, in traditional public schools it's very difficult to remove apathetic and poor behaving students. I've read about charter schools where they seem to have much more freedom in this area. Can you tell me how that works? Are those some of the "school district restrictions" that they are free of? If so, that's huge!

Reading that Duncan's solution was that "the kids should stay, but the adults should leave" really gets my goat. The assumption by so many about public schools that are failing is that the big problem is teachers doing a lousy job. I'd love to see someone like Duncan go into one of those classrooms for a few weeks and try to handle it.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why it is so extraordinarily difficult to weed apathetic students out of public high schools. They waste not only their own time, but that of teachers and other students. The answer of school administrators seems to be, "We love 'em and we have a new theory for fixing 'em." The more generalized response is, "Where else are we going to put them?" In their own way, both responses betray a profound contempt for what can and should happen in a classroom and the necessary conditions for achieving it.

Dennis Fermoyle said...

Anonymous, it's tough to put it any better than you did!

mmazenko said...

Dennis/Queen Lucy,

Charter schools are elementary or secondary schools in the United States that receive public money but have been freed from some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school's "charter."

They are often founded by groups of parents or teachers who feel they have a better model for serving some segment of the districts population. While there are many great success stories, there are an equal number of failures, some of them rather disturbing, as a result of the founders not truly understanding what they are undertaking.