Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Charters Gaining "Big Mo"

This from This Week in Education:

Here's an image from an ad that the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools is running in 5 states including Ohio:

More and more education outfits are getting into the the political game, it seems -- not just EDIN08 and DFER and the unions. That's good thing, I'd argue, for people who want education taken seriously.

As KSN&C readers may know, I'm conflicted about Charter Schools. As a principal, and looking out for the interests of one school only, I tried to get permission to turn my elementary school nto the state's first charter - and failed. But looking at the state as a whole, it's hard for me to see how charters won't be disequalizing, and thus, unconstitutional.

But alas, nationally charters do seem to be gaining some momentum. And, Kentucky can't resist federal dollars.


Anonymous said...

I am curious about what type of charter school it was that you tried to get permission for but failed. There are some model charter schools in other states that I've been following their progress and wondering how they would fare in KY.

The Principal said...

We never got that far.

This would have been early 1993. Ed Ford had just become Secretary of Gov Paul Patton's Cabinet and I tried to convince him that being forced to continue the state's "primary program" would waste time and energy while getting us no closer to meeting new and challenging goals. The state required multi-aged groupings without supporting this major change in any meaningful way - all while driving away too many parents of young children.

I was looking for a way out and tried to get the governor to consider an executive order allowing us to ignore state regulations and create a charter.

Their response was that "Kentucky was not ready for charter schools," or in other words, "No."

So that was that.

What we had in mind was far from revolutionary. We wanted to be effective, and responsive to the special needs of our students and parents. We wanted to lower class sizes while offering a structured environment that was governed locally and operated flexibliy. Our political environment was pretty broad and ran from the very conservative to the very liberal.

But we thought we could manage that effectively by sitting down together and focusing on the needs of the children. Period.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information. It'd be interesting to compare the Secretary's response if it had been 2008 instead of 1993.

The Principal said...

You bet.

My sense is that legislators better understand the nature of charters now and would probably be less resistant. For example, Rep Harry Moberley met with one of my classes the other day and seemed open to some kind of discussion about charters; no specifics.

But I also believe the answer - today - would be the same.

But catch us again after January and who knows. If the next president ties charters to NCLB...Kentucky might go along quietly.