Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Charter School Strikedown Gets National Attention

Two stories from two noted national newspapers.

One is from the New York Times and is one of the most objectively written stories on public education that I have read in a long time.  Its overview is the turmoil in public education in Washington State, including the Seattle teachers strike but is mostly about the Supreme Court decision on the charter law.

About the charter ruling;

We are now firmly on that chess table,” said Thomas Franta, the chief executive of the Washington State Charter Schools Association.

But he said the political terrain had gotten tricky because with two giant education issues facing the Legislature, the pressure would be immense to tackle them at the same time in a special session. “And doing them both at the same time is going to be more difficult,” he added.

But David Sciarra, the executive director of the Education Law Center, which advises lawyers on education financing cases, said the Washington ruling could foreshadow fights over charter school funding and how it affects traditional public schools. Particularly in communities with large numbers of charter schools, legacy school districts struggle with declining enrollments that can lead to school closings and leave the remaining schools with students who often are the most difficult to educate.

The other story is from the Washington Post ( I am quoted in it):

But the ruling also highlights a question that has spurred much debate in education circles as charter schools — which are funded with taxpayer dollars, but run by independent organizations — have expanded rapidly during the past two decades: What makes a public school public?
A truly startling quote (something I have truly never put this way before):

“To us, the difference between traditional public schools and public charter schools is the notion that you’re bringing in outside entities to run schools free of the political process that often hampers school districts’ ability to make decisions that are good for children,” said Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools. 

I mean, maybe she's just being honest but it's brutal to say that public schools are so politically driven that the decision-making in not in the best interests of children.  Almost like we should all go the New Orleans route and have a charter school system.  (Except New Orleans public ed? Not all the hearts and flowers put out there.)

Yet another charter supporter was more pragmatic:

Even as charter-school proponents criticized the Washington decision as anachronistic, some said they agree that local voters should have more say over public education in cities like New Orleans, Detroit and the District, where a significant proportion of children attend charters. One reason: Without local say-so, communities are likely to someday toss out charter schools and other education reforms that they feel have been foisted upon them.

“Even if a policy produces good outcomes, it will always be viewed as suspect (and therefore be susceptible to overturn) if it wasn’t locally driven,” Andy Smarick, a pro-charter policy expert at Bellwether Education, a nonprofit, wrote in an e-mail.

There is a way to do local democratic control without doing education in the same way we’ve done it for 100 years,” Smarick said. “But no one’s figured this out yet.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I mean, maybe she's just being honest but it's brutal to say that public schools are so politically driven that the decision-making in not in the best interests of children. Almost like we should all go the New Orleans route and have a charter school system. "


"Is not the SPS so politically driven that the decision-making in not in the best interests of children?"

YUP the brutal facts.... so lets do something about it.

We should increase school autonomy and drastically reduce employment at the JSCEE. John Hattie's "Visible Learning for Teachers" shows how to do this and maximize student learning.

-- Dan Dempsey