It is hard to find anyone in the education reform movement or among our legislators that is not smitten with charter schools. Our new Senator and our Governor are also among the proponents, and the isolated but dramatic success stories of some charters seems to lend credence to those who want to increase their numbers. As far as I'm concerned, its actually time to "go all the way."
Let me explain. I do not support the current charter school movement- for a lot of reasons- because I believe it shifts the philosophical emphasis in education to individual families rather than to the population at large. I don't disagree that we need more parents advocating and supporting their kids, and I sympathize with those who look at our failing inner city schools and argue that parents should have "a way out" for their kids, but the existing system will never be able to improve the performance of enough of our students to make a real dent in the system; the majority of inner city students will continue to receive an inferior education.
So here's what I mean by going "all the way." I believe that it is time to turn EVERY inner city school into a charter school. Rather than dump on these inner city school districts more and more mandates and rules and directives and tests and whatever else our legislators have "up their sleeves," they should turn these districts loose and let them figure out for themselves how to create a vibrant culture of learning at their schools, how to integrate stakeholders into education, and how to motivate the teachers and students to improve their performance.
By freeing these districts, hopefully they will make better decisions on choosing their leaders, turning their focus to visionary leaders (for real, not just in sound bites) rather than skilled bureaucrats that are great at making sure the paperwork is properly churned.
Let's face it, whatever is happening now is not working. Generally speaking, nothing has improved. More and more government is translating into less and less success. I guess what I'm calling for can be termed "radically conservative." The point is that we need to change course and we need to do it soon. Otherwise our schools will soon be colliding with teachers on that darkened road that they are already being led down by the tenure reform movement.