That's wonderful. We all benefit from an open discussion that includes a variety of perspectives.
It's true that Melissa and I both find charter schools an unnecessary distraction that detracts from public education, and it is also true that a large proportion of those who read this blog share that view.
It is also true that we welcome - sincerely - opposing views. I like to think that I could be convinced to change my mind on a large number of topics and charter schools are certainly among those. I have had a number of very lively, civil conversations with well-informed and well-intentioned charter school proponents and I have benefited from those conversations. I am grateful for an understanding of their views and concerns and I am equally grateful for the opportunity to examine my own views more critically and deeply.
I don't particularly despise charter schools. Honestly, I like any school that's a good school, whether it is public, private, or charter. There isn't anything about the public school format that precludes the creation of a good school, so I figure that the best path to follow is to create good public schools instead of creating new formats. I find them unnecessary. Tell us why charter schools are necessary.
So let's have a space for this. Let's have a space for charter school proponents to make their case.
But first, some provisos:
- This isn't about disputing the Supreme Court decision or finding fault with it. That's simply not germane. This is not the place to say that Running Start or Skills Centers or anything else is unconstitutional if charters are and for the same reason. Attacking the Court decision or Running Start doesn't support charters.
- If you're going to claim that after there are charters, that choice and the invisible hand of the market will create better schools across the state, then please tell us which state has already benefited in this way by the presence of charter schools. If you're going to say that things will work this way then tell us where and when that has ever happened before.
- If you are going to claim that charter schools provide families with an opportunity for a better education than their child could get in a public school, then you're going to have to say HOW they do that. Is there some instructional practice at work in charter schools that public schools could not duplicate? Is it through some sort of family engagement that is out-of-bounds for public schools? What is it that charter schools can do for students that public schools cannot do? And why do you think that charter schools in Washington State will do that thing?
- If the benefit of charters is that they are outside the control of school boards then please tell us how school boards are impeding children's education. What are the school boards doing that works against children?
- If the benefit of charters is that their teachers are not union members, then please tell us how unionized teachers are impeding children's education. What could non-union teachers do for students that union-member teachers cannot do?
- Finally, what could charter schools do that could not be achieved by the creation of more option schools or service schools?
Help me to understand why you find the public school system incapable of creating a school like the one you envision, and help me to understand why you think that a charter school operator will create that ideal school.