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  • More Charters, More Choice

    Today’s committee hearing on charter schools illuminated the powerful impact charters are having on student achievement, and their particular ability to close achievement gaps in states throughout the country. Despite the existence of over 4,600 charter schools in 40 states – with an estimated enrollment of 1.4 million students – the news on the charter school front is not all positive.

    Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) reported that there are overwhelming barriers to the expansion of charter schools due to hostile state legislatures and arbitrary caps, and that 26 states now have caps or limits to charter growth:

    These caps are often the consequence of legislative trade-off – representing political deal-making designed to appease special interests who prefer the status quo rather than reasoned education policy. As a result of the caps, children across the country now languish on daunting wait lists, just waiting to enroll in the public school of their choice, simply because it happens to operate as a charter. An estimated 365,000 students are on charter school wait lists today. That’s enough students to fully enroll 1,100 new averaged-size charter schools.

    Testimony provided at the hearing demonstrated that it is the autonomy and flexibility of charters that make them so effective. Barbara O’Brien, the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado, testified that it is the inherent difference between charters and traditional public schools that make them successful.

    In Colorado, for example, 97 percent of charters use models that are different from traditional schools, including Montessori, experiential learning, and technology-based curricula, among others. Charter schools create opportunities and open doors for kids who would otherwise be left behind. They do it by using the best of the American spirit — entrepreneurship, innovation, and hard work. They are an asset, not a threat, to our public education system… I view charter schools as education laboratories – taking risks, trying new things, developing alternatives, and pushing the reform envelope. Districts are learning every day from successful models and can deploy their knowledge in other schools.

    Lt. Governor O’Brien stated that there are several approaches that add to the efficacy of charters, including more hours per school day, more days per year, good principals, high performance standards, and innovation. The ability to attract the most highly qualified teachers was also noted as a key component to ensuring the success of charter schools. John King the co-founder of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School in Boston reported that a single teaching position is filled from a pool of 80 to 100 highly qualified applicants.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to More Charters, More Choice

    1. Pingback: Walter Williams evaluates American academic performance « Wintery Knight Blog

    2. Pat Gilson, Calabasa says:

      I have reviewed all of these Heritage articals on education and the most alarming and glaring problem is thet nothing is even mentioned about -"Home Schooling"! Now if whaatever school our Gov is offering how can it be SO "BAD" and unuseable that many parents go to unbelieveable means to total reject that and "Home School their children. Nothing can be said about EDUCATION for this says it all. REMOVE GOV! Pat Gilson.

    3. st.augustine fl. says:

      if charter school's were allowed to grow, our children would become well educated in understanding the pitfalls of government intervention. government does not want this to happen.they might also become socially well balanced because of moral teaching. it would also put a strain on the teachers union,because of less students in their classroom's. if charter schools and home schooling were allowed grow we might turn out some people that could correct the problems in our government……..oh my.what am i saying?

    4. dennis florida says:

      if charter schools and home schooling were allowed to grow, children would become well educated in understanding the pitfalls of government intervention.they could also become more socially balanced. the government does not want this to happen. if charter schools and home schooling were allowed to grow, we could turn out young men and women that might just fix the problems in our government……oh my what am i saying?

    5. Glen, FL says:

      You have it absolutely wrong, and backwards.

      We need funding pooled, and the money following the children. What we have now is a system that funds education based on where people live, and what the local tax base offers, creating a country of educated and uneducated.

      A social education system is the only way to ensure there is equal opportunity for children. Just because it has been legislated too fail does not mean it cannot be legislated to work, only that there are powers that enjoy being able to keep labor uneducated, so they can work for low wages in the mills.

      If any of you had read books on tracking in our educational system, you would know exactly why geographic tax based funding for schools has been a dismal failure. Just looking at todays economy, and the behavior of for-profit institutions should be plenty of information to stop you from voting to sell our future to for-profit education models.

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