Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Charter Schools make sense

Excerpts from a good sense Charter school article:

Much to the chagrin of teachers unions, charter-school principals have much more flexibility in hiring staff than in traditional, government-run schools. The teachers unions want "years served" in the system as the driver for hiring and pay. But charter-school principals can sign up the best teachers for a school's academic needs - even if a teacher lacks the longest tenure.

In return for this freedom, these schools must achieve a certain level of performance outlined in their "charters," ostensibly a contract with those who use them.

Part of the reason why charters succeed stems from lifting the heavy hand of regulation and letting parents choose to use them instead of traditional pubic schools. Meanwhile, principals and teachers in charter schools get to exercise innovation. They can choose their emphasis. Some emphasize math and science, and others focus on the arts. They choose a curriculum, dress codes and disciplinary standards.

School-choice opponents argue that only well-to-do parents want school choice. They say that enacting school-choice laws in Kentucky would skim the "cream of the crop" from the student body in failing public schools, leaving behind riff-raff.

Not so at Preuss (Charter school). All applicants to attend must be eligible for "Title I" or "Free or Reduced Lunch" programs, the subsidies for students from low-income families. That means 100 percent of the students at Preuss fall into the low-income household category.

These aren't wealthy, white suburban students that critics claim hold the only interest in choice. Every one of the students comes from a low-income home, and 94 percent are Hispanic or black. Oh, yeah, the school ranked No. 10 in the U.S. News lineup.

One of the greatest aspects of charters is that they allow parents access to quality education choices who don't have the financial wherewithal to move to a better school district or pay tuition at a private school. Public money gets used, but if a parent chooses, those dollars go to a charter school that may provide their student with a better education.

So…high standards, great teachers, parental control, massive student achievement, alternatives for low-income students…I’m sold!

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