Monday, January 30, 2012

KARE: Why public charter schools are important

Wayne Lewis and Hal Heiner of Kentuckians Advocating Reform in Education (KARE) described their vision for charter schools in Kentucky this week, but with regrettable hypernbole.

This from Wayne Lewis and Hal Heiner in C-J:
For Kentucky, we want a charter school law that has a high threshold; meaning applicants wanting to open charter schools will have to meet a rigorous standard before being granted a charter. We also want the law written so that charter schools that fail to meet their agreed upon expectations will be shut down with minimal difficulty.
Good. Having a strong law is crucial. But then...
In addition to this outcomes-based accountability that comes with charter schools, any parent that is unhappy with the charter school that their child attends simply takes the child out of the charter school and sends him/her to another school.
Another school? It might have been more honest to suggest that such students would be returned to the traditional public school, which is an important consideration since it relates to the issue of charters "creaming" students from the traditional public schools. Then there's this...
Charter schools provide additional school options for parents. We believe firmly that every parent should have public school options when deciding on a school for his/her child. No parent should be forced to continue to send his or her child to a school that cannot or does not serve that child’s needs. But unfortunately, tens of thousands of parents in Kentucky are forced to do just that. As we work to improve our traditional public school systems in Kentucky, we must also work to increase the availability of public school options for parents, both inside and outside of our traditional public school systems.
I agree with the general notion, but "tens of thousands of parents in Kentucky" !? I think KARE should be required to tell us which parents these are. All of the parents in which schools? This exaggerated number is inflammatory and untrue. While I agree that there is a good argument for allowing charters is some limited situations such hyperbole only serves to undermine the credibility of the writers.
All parents deserve quality school options; regardless of their ZIP code, education level, income, or social capital.
Not only true, but if we substitute the word "education" for "school options" it is guaranteed by the Kentucky constitution.
Quality public charter schools can be instrumental in giving parents across Kentucky access to quality public school options.
Not hardly, but it could be one vehicle, which if judiciously applied in limited cases of long-standing failure, that can be justified. The problem is that the way one organized for instruction is never the main ingredient in school success.

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