Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Worrisome Precedent for Charter Schools?

Last week the Florida Supreme Court struck down a voucher program as illegal under that state's constitution.

Betsy Newmark (linked above) is worried about the precedent the Florida Supreme Court's ruling against vouchers may set for charter school opponents, inasmuch as the court ruled that public schools must be "uniform."

Betsy's daughter Katie has many links of interest on this subject at her blog, A Constrained Vision.

As Betsy notes, charter schools are often very different from public schools. Here in California, the California Virtual Academy, a publicly funded homeschool program, has been such a success that it will be considered for selection as a California Distinguished School this spring. Similar innovations in Florida could be thwarted depending on the interpretation of "uniform."

Yesterday's L.A. Daily News reported that charter schools in Los Angeles are booming, and teachers are being hired away from "regular" L.A. public schools in significant numbers. In many cases the teachers are willing to give up higher salaries and benefits in order to teach in charter schools. (Hat tip: Joanne Jacobs.)


Blogger Yojimbo said...

If they're such a success, then why do they need government money to survive. Publicly funded means taking money away from the local public schools. If you're homeschooling your kids, why do you need public money?

It's an excuse to kill public schools. Period.
The Charter School Scourge

12:19 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

"If you're homeschooling your kids, why do you need public money?"

First, there's an issue of terminology. "Public money" and "government money" is actually "my" money and "your" money.

If government schools are a success, they have nothing to fear from competition in the marketplace. If many children leave regular public schools for charters, there will be fewer children in the public schools and thus, the local public schools need less money. Why shouldn't our (not the government's) money go toward educating our children in the school of our choice?

Thanks for visiting -- Best wishes,

3:27 PM  
Blogger Yojimbo said...

If your argument about less students need less money were true, then why don't we just have one school per student. We could have a library, cafeteria, (just need one bus and driver), gymnasium, a principal, PTO would be small, but you see that the money is not the same.

I have no problem with competition from private schools. You can take your kid out of my public school and buy them a personal education if you would like, but I don't want to spend my money on your special school that takes money away from my kid's real school.

6:03 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

"I don't want to spend my money on your special school that takes money away from my kid's real school."

But I'd like to spend *my* money on my children's school, simple as that. And you could spend your money on your child's school. Why shouldn't we each be able to choose? If the neighborhood school is successful, there will be no shortage of money to provide the services you describe. In fact I'd debate whether those services (library, cafeteria, etc.) are truly even necessary -- one of my children went to a small private school (on our personal dime) and received a much better education than he had been receiving in public school, and that private school had no library, no cafeteria, no bus, no gym, no nurse. Part of the time they didn't even have a playground, other than a basketball hoop set up in a parking lot. But it was a wonderful experience. A quality education doesn't necessarily take tons of money.

A few of this school's students, in fact, were students with varied learning issues who the local public school had clearly given up on -- the private school took them in and succeeded with these kids while receiving far less money per child than was received from the state per child at the public school. And the school did it without "learning specialists," etc.

It's particularly interesting to me that you even frown on competition within the public school system, in the form of charter schools. I'd suggest that since the current system is plainly broken, why not stop throwing money at it and try something different, i.e., charter schools, and see what happens? What is the worst that can happen, given how poorly so many public schools are already performing?

Ah, well, we're not likely to agree on this one, but thank you for a spirited debate. Best wishes,

6:16 PM  

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