Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Charter schools and parents

I have been hearing a lot of good things about charter schools from many of the parents I meet along the way. The mythic belief is that charter schools will be the perfect haven for parents who want education for kids their way. This has always sounded a bit too simple to be true, and just recently, I've stumbled across two instances which might indicate that indeed charter schools may not always be what parents are being sold here in Southern California.

The most recent instance of trouble is this rant by a LA charter school CEO.
There are four special interests that have blocked, clogged, and undermined reform for decades. It is all about money, control, and power. It is diseased value system that leaves our kids uneducated, exposed to violence and drugs, and with too few or zero opportunities to pursue the American Dream. Who are the four? Emphatically, I name names: the teacher’s unions, the University Schools of Education, the bureaucracies, and (unbelievably) the PTA’s.
Pretty strong words. He's very clear he's opposed to any form of organized groups of people, including the parents. What a defensive stance from the head of a charter school.

The earlier example was the Florida Gateway Charter School incident. See also Jay Bullock and Joe Thomas .

Yes, there's a putative happy ending to the whole thing. The charter school withdrew the lawsuit against the parents and extended an olive branch. I'm still concerned because I see no indication that the PTO, the parent organization, suspended from meeting, is back. But it's clear that these guys mean business when a school's first step is to sue the parents. Parents will undoubtedly be more careful if not cowed.

Two examples do not in anyway indicate a definitive trend. Let's just say this is a developing topic worthy of more inquiry and commentary. If anything, news of these incidents makes me even more wary of charter schools as the end-all be-all form of public education being sold to us in California.