My questions to the Pioneer Institute and charter supporters

(Good discussion in the comments

– promoted by Rob “EaBo Clipper” Eno
)

As a former suburban school committee member I have some strong feelings relative to charter schools, particularly how we pay for them. Today my thinking is different than it was a few years ago in that I believe charter schools are the ONLY way to solve the education crisis in our urban areas. My conclusion relative to urban communities is based almost exclusively on the notion that the teachers unions will never embrace ideas such as longer school days, etc. without wanting higher salaries. I am also basing my assumption on the notion that in an environment of fixed economic resources, the greatest good is achieved by using those dollars in the often referenced “achievement gap” communities.” So here are my questions and a comment:

#1-Why should there be any Charter Schools opened in the suburbs as long as we have clear achievement gap issues and limited resources? The suburbs need help, but the urban districts need to be reinvented.

#2-Do Charter Schools include amongst their students a proportionate # of special education students? I ask this question not knowing the answer. I ask this question simply because critics of charters raise this issue all the time.

#3-How is the opening of a charter school in any school district economically neutral given the fact that the pool of money is fixed and we are further stressing an already stressed system by adding payroll and overhead. Keep in mind that not enough kids are enrolled in charters (3% +/-) materially reduce overhead in the traditional public schools. Frankly one of the problems with charters may very well be that there are not enough of them to generate real savings on the sending district side of the formula.

And finally a comment relative to charter school politics:

For the record, I believe that the damage done by Reville, Chester and the BOE in Gloucester is irreversible. Until both Reville and Chester are in the private sector there will NEVER be a charter approved that isn’t looked at by some folks are a political fix.

A link to a summary of Gloucester Charter issues:

http://www.schoolsmatter.info/…

About David Whelan